MERRICK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island couple said they ended up having to pay hundreds of dollars just because they made a typo while booking plane tickets.
As CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported, Robert Schultz of Merrick, Long Island spells his last name with one L. But he ran into big trouble after making a typo involving his own last name.
“My head was going to explode last night,” he said.
Back in April, Schultz booked a trip to Australia with his wife on Qantas Airlines. He said he filled out the required information on his cellphone, where he admits he is all thumbs and somehow unknowingly spelled his own last name “Schulltz.”
“No, I’m a terrible typist,” he said.
Schultz said he noticed the mistake two months later, but still before the flight. On Thursday, he called Qantas asking the airline to correct the spelling.
But Schultz said Qantas refused, and told him he would have to cancel his flight at a cost of $500, and rebook it with the correct spelling.
“It’s almost like they’re hoping you make a mistake so they can charge you a couple extra bucks,” Schultz said.
He said finally after more than three frustrating hours of phone conversations, Qantas relented. The airline charged his ticket and did not charge him the $500 on the outbound flight.
But then, a Qantas-affiliated carrier on his return flight charged him what ultimately amounted to $352 to correct the problem.
“Airlines can rake in a huge amount of money — a billion dollars already this year — in name changes alone,” said Paul Brady, a travel expert with Conde Nast Traveler.
Brady said in the Schultz case, the passenger has little or no recourse, but would have if he had discovered the mistake sooner.
“If you act in the first day — the first 24 hours – oftentimes, the airlines will let you change your name,” Brady said.
Brady said the best ways to avoid situations like the one Schultz went through are to check the information on your ticket immediately after purchase for accuracy – name, spelling, date of birth, and itinerary.
And if you happen to discover the mistake too late, all is not lost.
“If you do notice a problem with your reservation, try calling the airline, get a sympathetic agent on the phone, and they might have some wiggle room,” Brady said.
As for Schultz, he said he will be more careful in the future after making one L of a mistake.
CBS2 reached out to Qantas via emails and phone calls for comment, and had yet to hear back late Friday.