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Passenger Defeats International Airline in Battle Over Misspelt Name

Individuals can feel almost powerless when faced with the might of large corporations but, with the right legal advice, that is very far from being so. In a case on point, a judge ruled that an international airline had no right to charge a passenger almost £1,000 for a fresh ticket merely because the original contained a spelling mistake.

Six days before he and his wife were due to fly to Canada, the passenger noticed that his wife's name was misspelt on her ticket. After contacting the airline, he was informed that a new ticket would have to be issued at a price of £916. He said that he had no option but to pay that sum under protest, but subsequently launched proceedings against the airline with a view to recovering his money.

The airline alleged that it was the passenger who made the spelling mistake when he booked the flight. It argued that it was under no obligation to arrange transport for anyone who was not named in the booking. Having arranged the flight through another carrier, it said the sum charged reflected its own outlay.

Upholding the passenger's claim, however, the judge found that he was under no contractual obligation to buy a new ticket. It was more likely than not that he had spelt his wife's name correctly and that the error was not his. The airline had produced no evidence that it was necessary to purchase a new ticket from the other carrier or that it had in fact done so. The airline was ordered to refund the passenger for the price of the new ticket and an administrative charge it had levied. With court costs, his award came to £1,058.

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