BRITISH Airways have forced a severely disabled passenger to pay almost £800 – just to change the name on a ticket.
Rachael Monk’s cerebral palsy is so severe and complex she needs two personal assistants at all times.
The 35-year-old asked BA to change the name on one of the three tickets she bought for a Canadian trip after an assistant resigned and she hired a replacement.
But the airline has refused to make the simple change without an additional fee of £780, even though the original return tickets cost only £460 each. Rachael paid for insurance through BA but they refused to pay out on the policy.
BA claim the rule is in place to stop a “secondary market” for tickets but the airline has been branded “disgusting” over its stance.
Rachel, from Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, is travelling to Canada this summer to meet her best friend and booked the tickets 12 months in advance to get the best price.
She said today: “I have felt stressed, disappointed, angry and let down. I have been let down by British Airways.
“I had to buy the tickets so far in advance as I require to travel with two PAs and therefore knew I would have to pay for all three tickets and they are cheaper when you buy in advance.
“I had a definite answer from my PAs who promised they would be able to go with me.
“I am travelling to Canada because my best friend in the whole world, Steph, and her family moved there years ago. They mean the world to me and I wanted to visit them.”
Rachel said she even bought cancellation insurance from BA, for an extra £90, at the time she bought the tickets but the company has refused to pay up, claiming her circumstances are not covered by her policy.
She added: “Whilst I was waiting for a decision about the name change the ticket price rocketed daily and I have had no other option but to buy another ticket for £780.”
One of Rachael’s friends, Alex Thorburn, left a furious message on a Facebook page dedicated to complaints about the airline.
He wrote: “So, for a non-disabled person to fly to Canada would be achieved for just over £400, Rachael’s costs are to be over £2,300 for that same flight. All over a simple change of name on a flight ticket, that is allowed by all other airlines – except British Airways.
“You will probably hear much more on this issue because Rachael is very concerned that other disabled people who require support may fall into the same trap set for them by British Airways.”
Moira Garrod said: “Just awful, disgusting behaviour by BA. This really sums them up.”
Jennie Pope posted: “Good luck to you Alex this is absolutely disgraceful & BA deserve to be shamed. The stories on here that have been posted for months show BA as a greedy, unfeeling, disrespectful, ignorant & shambolic company that should be stripped of the name British as they make us Brits feel ashamed.
“I am sure with the right publicity they will have to back down. Please keep us updated & my good wishes to Rachael.”
John Sander commented: “A new low for BeyondAbysmal. Name and shame the profiteers who gouge paying customers whether able bodied or not.”
A spokeswoman for BA said: “We offer a range of tickets including fully flexible and refundable options and always advise customers to choose the product that meets their individual needs.
“We do everything we can to help customers when their travel plans change and offer a 24-hour cooling off period so they can check that the name on the ticket matches the name on their passport.
“After this time, we will correct spelling mistakes on all of our tickets, and on many we allow changes to the date or time of a flight. However, we don’t allow customers to transfer their tickets as this could lead to a secondary market of trading in airline tickets.”