1,000 back petition demanding Ryanair refund name-change charges
A Ryanair passenger has set up a petition calling on the airline to refund customers who claim they've been unfairly charged £115 to change the name on their booking, after MoneySavingExpert.com revealed a raft of complaints about the issue.
We've been inundated with complaints since we first reported passengers' claims. They say they had correctly inputted names when making a booking only to find Ryanair's system had inadvertently changed them. By the start of January we'd had reports of the problem from at least 44 different passengers, and a clear pattern emerged:
- Passengers had been booking for a second person (or more) with different surnames.
- They claim Ryanair's booking system automatically changed their companions' surnames to be the same as the lead passenger's or account holder's surname.
- Those who didn't spot the error within Ryanair's 24-hour grace period for free name changes were left facing a £115 charge to change it to the correct name – and some have already paid it.
Ryanair insists there is no glitch within its booking system but hasn't given any further comment, despite us contacting it several times to point out there is a consistent pattern. It's told us it won't waive the fee for those affected.
After seeing our story, one passenger decided to set up a petition asking Ryanair to refund affected customers, and it's reached over 1,050 signatures in just a few days.
See our 20 Ryanair Tips for help mastering the airline's mega-strict rules and charges.
'I'm calling on Ryanair to refund those affected'
Emma Bentley, who's 27 and from Hertfordshire, set up the petition a week ago. She told us her surname was changed to her partner's on a booking for a Ryanair flight to Warsaw for a New Year's holiday. After reading our story, she realised she wasn't alone in being affected.
Emma says she and her partner had to pay £115 to correct the surname, and her petition argues some would have struggled to afford their travel when faced with the charge.
The petition continues: "Ryanair is so far refusing to reimburse customers affected, despite MSE presenting them with the evidence they collected so far.
"That's why I am calling on Ryanair to refund those affected."
I've been told I must pay the fee – can I fight back?
Frustratingly, Ryanair's official position is that there is no glitch – meaning if you've got an incorrect surname on your booking, you'll be charged the full £115 name-change fee if the 24-hour grace period has passed.
But if you think a name on your booking's been automatically changed and it wasn't your fault, you can try to fight it, though it could take a bit of work:
- Gather any evidence. Include details of your saved Ryanair companions, and any confirmation emails or itineraries. If you're booking a flight now, it's also worth taking screenshots as you go to show you didn't enter any names incorrectly.
- Complain to Ryanair. Passengers have told us they haven't had much luck with Ryanair, but it's still worth a try – and you'll need to contact Ryanair directly before you can escalate any complaints.
You can contact Ryanair via its live chat service or by calling 0330 1007 838 (you'll be charged at local rates), or through online complaints tool Resolver. It's also worth complaining via social media.
- If this doesn't work, escalate your complaint to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). If you're not happy with Ryanair's response – or you don't hear back from it within eight weeks – you can escalate your complaint.
You should usually escalate any complaint about an airline to an approved alternative dispute resolution service (ADR) – but Ryanair cut ties with its ADR last month.
So if your complaint isn't resolved directly through Ryanair, you can go straight to the aviation regulator, the CAA.
The CAA has confirmed that affected passengers can complain to its passenger advice and complaints team using an online form or by calling 0330 022 1916.
- You can try the small claims court as a last resort – but it may cost you. If you're not satisfied with the CAA's response, the last resort would be to take legal action.
There's full info on claiming through the courts in our Small Claims Court guide – but weigh up carefully whether you want to proceed, as you'll have to pay an upfront court fee of at least £25, and could end up liable for other expenses if you lose your case.
What does Ryanair say?
Previously Ryanair told us there was no glitch in its systems, and that any passengers with incorrect names on their bookings would need to pay its standard £115 fee to change them.
We've since contacted it several times with the new evidence, but it hasn't responded.
We've approached Ryanair to comment on the petition, and will update this story if we hear back.