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Regulator responds to our Ryanair name-change complaints dossier

Regulator responds to our Ryanair name-change complaints dossier

The aviation regulator will not be taking action against Ryanair, after we asked it to investigate our dossier of more than 160 name-change booking complaints – but it has pledged to tackle unfair contract terms across the industry.

Last month, MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis called on the chief executives of Ryanair and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to investigate complaints about incorrect names on bookings, which could cost some passengers at least £115 to fix, after we saw a spike in complaints about the issue. 

Some passengers booking in groups claimed their travel companions' surnames had been changed to match the lead passenger's or account holder's, despite having been entered correctly at the time of booking.

Those who failed to spot the error within Ryanair's 24-hour grace period for free name changes faced a £115 charge, or £160 if at the airport.

But Ryanair insisted there was "no technical problem" and now the CAA has said after meeting with the budget airline's representatives that it believes its response is credible and won't take further action.

Complaints about customers' names being changed are still coming into MoneySavingExpert, but at a slower rate than they were at the end of last year.

If you've been affected, let us know at news@moneysavingexpert.com. See our 20 Ryanair Tips for help mastering the airline's mega-strict rules and charges.

What has the CAA said?

The CAA said the issue appeared to have only affected a "very small proportion" of Ryanair bookings and that it is "unlikely" to be down to a glitch.

It said: "We do not intend to take any further action in relation to this specific complaint."

But it also said it was currently working on a project on unfair contract terms, which covers major UK airlines, as well as Ryanair. The review will look into terms such as name changes and ticket transfers, and will be published later this year.

It said: "Our review has highlighted the difficulty in dealing with the issue of unfair contract terms, and in particular the lack of clear legal framework underpinning contract terms and conditions. 

"However, we recognise that, in a number of areas, airlines use their contract terms to further their commercial interests in a way which is more onerous on consumers than, perhaps, it need be.

"Our work in this area has focused on improving transparency and encouraging airlines to make their terms fairer and more proportionate."

MoneySavingExpert.com deputy editor Guy Anker said: "We're pleased to have received a response from the regulator on this matter and are happy to see that it's taken our complaint seriously and investigated.

"We will continue to campaign against unfair airline charges and terms and we'll support the work of the regulator where we can to make these more reasonable on consumers."