All I wanted was to have a middle name changed from JAN to JANE

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Mar 27, 2018
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#1
In January 2018 I booked a round trip for my wife between Los Angeles and Adelaide using JustFly.com. The entire flight is on Air New Zealand. Upon reviewing the flight confirmation and doing seat assignments I noticed that the last letter of my wife's middle name "JANE" was left off and it showed "JAN". Because my wife would be travelling alone, i felt the safest and least worrisome approach would be to get the name spelling corrected.

Unfortunately I noticed the error three weeks had passed, far more than 24 hours after the booking was made. When I pointed out the mistake to the customer service agent at JustFly and asked what could be done I was told "you are eligible to get a credit for the amount of the flight for a cancellation fee of $150. you can then use the credit to rebook the flight with the correct name". When I tried to get more information I got the identical response - very scripted. I declined and decided to call Air New Zealand customer service where I was told that because all of the flight segments are on Air New Zealand in a situation like this they (the ANZ agents) can just go ahead and make the change, but so sorry, because I booked through JustFly, ANZ could not make the change, rather JustFly would need to do it.

Back on the phone to JustFly, they again told me that they could not change the name, that I would need to cancel and rebook. I did not want my wife to experience trouble at the airport so I decided to go ahead with the cancellation/rebooking. So Justfly charged my credit card $150 and issued a credit with JustFly for the full value of the itinerary. So far so good. In order to rebook with a credit I found out that the rebooking needed to be done on a special web page listing flights that were available. I put in the itinerary and guess what? It showed no flight available between LAX and AUK for the original date of travel, or for even other days before and after the original date - that seemed weird as the regular JustFly booking site showed lots of options for the original date and others - all on Air New Zealand. So back on the phone to JustFly where I spoke first to an agent, who after 10 minutes handed me off to a tech support person who after 15 minutes handed me off to a supervisor who told me he could book a fight 2 days later than the original date of travel. Since my wife was flying from Boston to LAX on one of our favorite airlines and had already booked that portion of the trip I told the supervisor that was unacceptable. At that point he told me that if I could not cooperate with him there was nothing he could do. I remained calm and stated that I needed to travel on the original date - what would it take to make that happen? He stated that all he could offer was the flight two days later. I hung up.

Now I am in a panic - I have no flight reservation at all. So, after a few minutes I called back Justfly customer service and said to the agent - I have a credit on JustFly and need to book a flight on a certain date going and a certain date returning, that I was having trouble booking online, could she please handle the transaction.. I was told certainly and she found the flights and asked for the credit number and then told me it would be an additional $200. Why could this agent find a flight when others could not? - I suspect it was because she started with the flight and then applied the credit rather than starting with the credit account number and then trying to find a flight that fit the bill. As I was desperate I accepted the additional $200 charge but informed her that I needed to have my wife's middle name spelled correctly on the rebooking. At that point I was told that the credit could only be used for the same person and that she could not change the name. Argggh. I reluctantly accepted.

Bottom line is that after spending 3 plus hours on the phone and spending an additional $350 I now was in the exact same situation I started in.

I think getting a full credit for a non-refundable international flight at a cost of $150 when cancelling is not unreasonable. Paying $200 more to rebook is also not all that unreasonable - it was rebooked 3 weeks after the original booking and flight costs do change. If my intent was to change travel plans then I would be very accepting of those charges. Maybe not so accepting to pay that much to change "JAN" to "JANE". Definitely not reasonable to pay that much to rebook on the exact same flights with the same misspelled middle name.

I work with computers and understand enough about systems to realize that often times while a customer service person would like to work with you to solve a problem, they can only do what the systems allow them to do. I think that is the case here. So I don't blame anyone for failing to help me, but I do blame them for giving me bad information. And I only wish that there would have been a way for higher ups /supervisors to get the job done.

After all of this I spoke with Air New Zealand and was told that once my wife checks in for her flight next week at LAX, Air New Zealand will no longer be dependant on JustFly for changes and my wife can ask the Air New Zealand agent to change the middle name and add the last letter. I wish I knew that from the start and I hope this is true.

In the meantime I wrote to the first name listed by Elliot.org for JustFly on March 2 and asked for a refund of the charges - no reply yet. I will stay persistent and continue to escalate my request over the next few weeks.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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#2
This is exactly why we advise folks to book directly with the airline. Use those sites to find flights, then go directly to the airline and book. Had this been done this was a minor fix that could have been done for free.

It’s been over a week since you write- move up to the first executive, tell them you wrote to Customer Service and had to reply. Repeat weekly if necessary.
 
Feb 16, 2018
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#3
I have had this happen before on domestic flights. The problem has been with the number of characters that the ticket shows. I communicated this with the airline by email and they responded that it would be no problem. As a backup I brought the email along with as I checked in for the flight. With this being an international flight the problem you may have could be with passport control as well as ANZ. I would suggest having the email backups to present to the ticketing agent.
 
Likes: jsn55
Mar 27, 2018
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#5
Thank you Neil, I will pursue on a weekly basis.

Thanks Dave I will see if I can get any of the involved parties to respond to an email so as to have a backup on the issue.

In reply to Just a Guy: Rather than pick on JustFly I think maybe a closer look at the travel industry might be useful. The airlines want to sell their inventory of seats. They do sell a lot of seats directly, but not enough to fill the plane. This is where 3rd party travel sites come in. The airlines offer a number of seats to the third parties at a discount, sometimes a significant one. In return they fill more seats and reduce the load on their customer service department to handle booking. JustFly needs to run a bare bones organization in order to turn a profit. They outsource their customer service department to a foreign country where wages are low. That outsourced company has to deal with a language issue as well as complex rules that govern international and domestic travel. I can only guess how hard it is to train staff under such circumstances. They counter this by means of computer systems that allow for no leeway. Yes, JustFly could do a much better job, but to do so would cost more money and reduce the amount of discount they can offer. if you use a broker such as JustFly a number of times, the savings become quite significant. JustFly's price for this trip was $200 less than booking direct with Air New Zealand. I have booked 4 flights to Australia in the past 12 months and saved nearly $700. This mistake may end up costing me $400 and a lot of aggravation, but really it was my mistake that originally caused the problem. There are a couple of lessons to be learned:
  • One - when booking any flight LOOK OVER THE CONFIRMATION CAREFULLY within the 24 hour grace period.
  • Two - if you use a third party site to book you need understand the risk of poor customer service when there is a problem and weigh that vs. the reward of the discounted fare - and this probably applies to any brokered sale in any industry. If you cannot afford to take the risk then book directly with the airline.
 
Likes: Just A Guy

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,478
6,536
113
San Francisco
#6
Rag,
In January 2018 I booked a round trip for my wife between Los Angeles and Adelaide using JustFly.com. The entire flight is on Air New Zealand. Upon reviewing the flight confirmation and doing seat assignments I noticed that the last letter of my wife's middle name "JANE" was left off and it showed "JAN". Because my wife would be travelling alone, i felt the safest and least worrisome approach would be to get the name spelling corrected.

Unfortunately I noticed the error three weeks had passed, far more than 24 hours after the booking was made. When I pointed out the mistake to the customer service agent at JustFly and asked what could be done I was told "you are eligible to get a credit for the amount of the flight for a cancellation fee of $150. you can then use the credit to rebook the flight with the correct name". When I tried to get more information I got the identical response - very scripted. I declined and decided to call Air New Zealand customer service where I was told that because all of the flight segments are on Air New Zealand in a situation like this they (the ANZ agents) can just go ahead and make the change, but so sorry, because I booked through JustFly, ANZ could not make the change, rather JustFly would need to do it.

Back on the phone to JustFly, they again told me that they could not change the name, that I would need to cancel and rebook. I did not want my wife to experience trouble at the airport so I decided to go ahead with the cancellation/rebooking. So Justfly charged my credit card $150 and issued a credit with JustFly for the full value of the itinerary. So far so good. In order to rebook with a credit I found out that the rebooking needed to be done on a special web page listing flights that were available. I put in the itinerary and guess what? It showed no flight available between LAX and AUK for the original date of travel, or for even other days before and after the original date - that seemed weird as the regular JustFly booking site showed lots of options for the original date and others - all on Air New Zealand. So back on the phone to JustFly where I spoke first to an agent, who after 10 minutes handed me off to a tech support person who after 15 minutes handed me off to a supervisor who told me he could book a fight 2 days later than the original date of travel. Since my wife was flying from Boston to LAX on one of our favorite airlines and had already booked that portion of the trip I told the supervisor that was unacceptable. At that point he told me that if I could not cooperate with him there was nothing he could do. I remained calm and stated that I needed to travel on the original date - what would it take to make that happen? He stated that all he could offer was the flight two days later. I hung up.

Now I am in a panic - I have no flight reservation at all. So, after a few minutes I called back Justfly customer service and said to the agent - I have a credit on JustFly and need to book a flight on a certain date going and a certain date returning, that I was having trouble booking online, could she please handle the transaction.. I was told certainly and she found the flights and asked for the credit number and then told me it would be an additional $200. Why could this agent find a flight when others could not? - I suspect it was because she started with the flight and then applied the credit rather than starting with the credit account number and then trying to find a flight that fit the bill. As I was desperate I accepted the additional $200 charge but informed her that I needed to have my wife's middle name spelled correctly on the rebooking. At that point I was told that the credit could only be used for the same person and that she could not change the name. Argggh. I reluctantly accepted.

Bottom line is that after spending 3 plus hours on the phone and spending an additional $350 I now was in the exact same situation I started in.

I think getting a full credit for a non-refundable international flight at a cost of $150 when cancelling is not unreasonable. Paying $200 more to rebook is also not all that unreasonable - it was rebooked 3 weeks after the original booking and flight costs do change. If my intent was to change travel plans then I would be very accepting of those charges. Maybe not so accepting to pay that much to change "JAN" to "JANE". Definitely not reasonable to pay that much to rebook on the exact same flights with the same misspelled middle name.

I work with computers and understand enough about systems to realize that often times while a customer service person would like to work with you to solve a problem, they can only do what the systems allow them to do. I think that is the case here. So I don't blame anyone for failing to help me, but I do blame them for giving me bad information. And I only wish that there would have been a way for higher ups /supervisors to get the job done.

After all of this I spoke with Air New Zealand and was told that once my wife checks in for her flight next week at LAX, Air New Zealand will no longer be dependant on JustFly for changes and my wife can ask the Air New Zealand agent to change the middle name and add the last letter. I wish I knew that from the start and I hope this is true.

In the meantime I wrote to the first name listed by Elliot.org for JustFly on March 2 and asked for a refund of the charges - no reply yet. I will stay persistent and continue to escalate my request over the next few weeks.
Rag, after reading your post, I was so sad ... then I got infuriated. How on earth can the airlines/online booking services treat their customers so badly? How can they get away with this thuggish behaviour year after year? At least by booking directly with the airline, you have a chance to get errors corrected without huge costs. Inexperienced flyers have no idea what an online booking website is, they just know that the websites are slick and they do lots of advertising. Nobody realizes that these services are just "order takers", catering to the public's wish for "the best deal". Customers are unaware that the people answering the phone are minimum-wage clerks with little problem-solving capabilities. People have no idea what a mess they can make of a simple airline tix. I hope your wife has an uneventful flight, and that you continue to apply pressure to the OBS to refund your money. What a bunch of clowns.
 
Likes: mmb
Mar 27, 2018
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#7
This morning I wrote a snail mail letter to the next contact on the elliott.org contact list for JustFly. In the letter I asked for a $350 refund and I detailed all of the events that have transpired along with the paper trail copies.

I emailed Air New Zealand and asked them to confirm what an AIr New Zealand customer agent had told me may be possible - that an Air New Zealand agent could make a minor change to a first or middle name at the time of check in because at the point JustFly is no longer responsible for the ticket. I have not yet heard back about that.

I also emailed JustFly customer service again asking for a name change but not mentioning the other details. A few minutes later my wife and I received an email from JustFly. This is a transcript of the email: "Your Justfly reservation (#...-...-...) requires immediate attention. Please call our support department at 1-800-717-5015 and one of our Customer Support Agents will be happy to assist you. Kindly note that this is a time-sensitive matter, and failure to contact us may result in disruptions to your travel plans."

I called the number listed 55 times over the next 2 hours and got either a busy signal or an "all circuits are busy try again later" notice. on the 57th call it finally rang through to an agent. I explained what the email said. He looked up the booking number and HE ASKED ME if I had any idea what the problem was and why I might have received the email - you might think after sending us such an urgent email there would be a note or something on the booking wouldn't you? So i said i needed the middle name on the booking changed from JAN to JANE. I was put on hold and after 5 minutes he said he had to transfer the call. The call was transferred to an agent in the verification department who asked for the booking number, passenger last name and a phone number that I could be reached at in case the call got dropped - that was a first. I also should add that she was super nice to me and very polite. She then looked up the booking number and SHE ASKED ME what the problem was. I explained about the email and said I believe it has to do with a request I made for a change from JAN to JANE on the middle name of the passenger. She said she needed me to email to her a copy of the photo page of the passenger's passport - would that be possible? I said by all means I am sending it to you right now. Wow maybe I am getting somewhere. After another half hour and various inquiries by this agent I was told the following:
  1. She had obtained authorization from her higher up department (her words) to make a name change.
  2. She had contacted Air New Zealand and requested that they provide verification back to JustFly authorizing them and instructing them of the process to make the change.
  3. The verification/change process could take as long as 48 hours.
  4. I MIGHT be called by Air New Zealand to confirm the change - she made sure the phone number I had was the best way to reach me.
  5. I would be called or emailed to by JustFly once the status of the change is made.
  6. If I did not hear back after 48 hours I should call back and ask for the verification department.
  7. Air New Zealand has a name change fee of $39.
  8. JustFly has a change fee of $75.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#8
Well it seems like you are finally getting somewhere.

I would not have used snail mail though. We provide the email address so you can email the Executives. But at this point it seems like you are finally getting help.

Let us know if it finally gets resolved. Had you booke directly with the airline you would have saved the $75 change fee ,

I’m sorry this happened.
 
Mar 27, 2018
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#9
I received an email from Air New Zealand Customer Service in response to the email I sent them on Wednesday (above). Here is the Email:

Thank you for your email addressed to Atishma regarding your wife’s travel. Atishma has requested that I respond to you on her behalf. I have contacted our Los Angeles Airport Manager regarding your wife’s booking 5xxxxx and I am pleased to advise that they will be able to make the name correction when she checks in. However, this will also need to be done on the return so we will contact our Adelaide representatives to make the name adjustment as well. We look forward to welcoming her on board with us on 1 April.​

Thanks to Elliott.org for posting the contacts for Air New Zealand.

I will continue to pursue the request for reimbursement with JustFly.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,262
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www.promalvacations.com
#10
Glad it worked. Make sure you get to the airport at least three hours before your flight is scheduled to leave. It takes time to make the correction and you need to make sure they have ample time to correct it before the computers close down for check in.

Enjoy your trip.
 
Likes: jsn55
Mar 27, 2018
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#11
Thanks Neil, I will advise my wife to be at the airport 3 hours ahead of flight time. I have also instructed her to take copies of all correspondence, especially the email from Air New Zealand regarding their willingness to make the name correction at check-in.

One thing I have learned is the booking Agent (JustFly in this case) is totally responsible for the reservation until check-in or until the start of the first flight segment. Once the event occurs the Airline can (but not necessarily will) make changes to any segments that occur on their airline. AIr New Zealand seems to have a very responsive (and responsive) customer service department. As Neal started earlier that is a very good reason to book directly with the airline.

I want to update what has transpired with JustFly since wednesday in regard to my request for the change from JAN to JANE. I followed up with JustFly 48 hours later as they requested. I was told to wait another 24 hours and call back. I called back today and they told me the authorization had not yet been received. this is neary 64 hours after they supposedly started the process and just 36 hours before the scheduled departure. I politely told them that I no longer required their assistance with the name change and that I was just going to leave the reservation as is. The agent said he would add that note to the booking account.

Still no word from the executive offices at JustFly regarding a refund. As suggested by Neil, I sent an email to the 2nd contact at JustFly on Thursday morning. If I do not get a reply by next thursday I will email the 3rd name on the contact list and continue to go do the list all the way to the CEO if need be.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#13
All it takes is one mistake or one problem (flight cancellation, need to change) and any potential financial savings from using justfly are wiped out -- and that does not even count the time spent and aggravation. Would it be worth it so save $200? Not for me personally, because if I have to stop working in order to chase down an OTA I lose more money in terms of work --

Also -- only booking directly with the airlines gives customers in the US the 24 hour cancellation -- if one tries it with Justfly they may be subject to justfly's administrative fees -- from justfly's terms and conditions:

All reservations are non-refundable unless otherwise stated. If you find that you must cancel a reservation for any reason, please contact us. We will do all we can to assist you in this process. However, please be aware that even if your cancellation is allowed and your reservation is thus refundable, it may be subject to an administrative cancellation fee of $150.00 per passenger for international flights, $125 for trans-border flights between Canada and the USA and $75 for domestic flights.


For U.S. bookings, even if your ticket is nonrefundable:

  • Within 24 hours of purchase, you may cancel your booking and receive a full refund, subject to our cancellation fees.
  • You may choose to opt-in to our Extended Cancellation Policy, for $19.99 per passenger, which will allow you to cancel up to a full 24 hours after purchase without subjecting you to our standard administrative cancellation fees.
So one would have to pay $19.99 per passenger to get what the airlines have to do for no charge.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,478
6,536
113
San Francisco
#17
I tend to worry about problems and the costs and time and that stops me from using the OTAs
I don't book through online booking services because there is no upside to the transaction, only a downside. I allow 3 hours at the airport for an International flight (and I'm TSA pre-chek), so I would advise your wife to arrive 4 hours before her flight. 1) there will be fewer people standing in line to talk to an agent, 2) she will be calm and collected knowing she has a whole hour to deal with these little rascals who can drag out the simplest thing forever, and 3) if she's done quickly, she can have a nice lunch before she gets on the plane.
 
Jun 27, 2017
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#18
It will be interesting to know that even WITH all the documentation IF rag33's wife really will get her round-trip ticket and boarding passes changed at the airport. And IF she does succeed, will it be done WITHOUT an additional cost. rag33 says he has saved nearly $700 over the past 12 months by booking directly with JustFly.com and IF this error costs him $400, he's still ahead. For me, however, dialing a number 57 times before I can reach a live person, the multiple letters and emails that must be written and sent, and the frustration what should be a simple error to fix is not worth the savings. But that's just me!
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,478
6,536
113
San Francisco
#19
It will be interesting to know that even WITH all the documentation IF rag33's wife really will get her round-trip ticket and boarding passes changed at the airport. And IF she does succeed, will it be done WITHOUT an additional cost. rag33 says he has saved nearly $700 over the past 12 months by booking directly with JustFly.com and IF this error costs him $400, he's still ahead. For me, however, dialing a number 57 times before I can reach a live person, the multiple letters and emails that must be written and sent, and the frustration what should be a simple error to fix is not worth the savings. But that's just me!
All depends on whether you're retired or not I guess. Even if I was retired, I'd rather have a root canal than deal with one of these online booking services and their non-existent customer service. I can always take up knitting.
 

Barry Graham

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Jan 7, 2015
822
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#20
Having seen what happened when you tried to fix it, although I wouldn't recommend this for everyone, I personally would have chanced showing up at the airport and dealing with it there if anyone noticed the discrepancy.