Jetstar charged critically ill mum more than her ticket's original cost to change name

Caroline Gray - pictured with sons James and Benji and husband Haydn - said hassles with Jetstar were the last thing she ...
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Caroline Gray - pictured with sons James and Benji and husband Haydn - said hassles with Jetstar were the last thing she needed while recovering from pneumonia.

An "aggressively" ill Auckland woman is calling out Jetstar on its harsh name-change ticketing policy.

The airline charged Caroline Grey $248 to switch her ticket into her husband's name - as she was too sick to fly to Napier with their young son.

She said she thought the added cost was "very harsh" for what was a $140 return flight, "especially since the seat was already booked".

"And the craziest thing is that Jetstar think they're being kind to me!" she said.

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Jetstar waived its name change fee for the Grays, but still charged the difference in fare - more than Caroline's ticket ...

Jetstar waived its name change fee for the Grays, but still charged the difference in fare - more than Caroline's ticket cost in the first place.

Gray had booked the tickets in June last year, planning to take four-year-old Benji to Napier's Splash Planet amusement park for the day to "create some happy memories".

"I did the same thing with his brother - it's become a family tradition to do before they start their first day of school."

The tickets were for a return flight from Auckland on February 19.

But Gray hadn't bargained on becoming critically ill with pneumonia during a holiday in Whangamata just after the new year.

"I was rushed from Thames hospital to Auckland in an ambulance as a status one emergency - I was aggressively sick and my life was at risk," she said.

After 11 nights in hospital - four in the intensive care ward - she was discharged last Wednesday and told her recovery would take three months.

As she would be unfit to fly to Napier, Gray contacted Jetstar to switch the name on her ticket into that of her husband's - so he could fly in her place.

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The airline waived its usual name change fee due to her illness, but then insisted on treating her husband's ticket as a new ticket. She had to pay the fare difference.

Unfortunately for Gray, the fare had gone up significantly since she had booked the tickets and she faced a $248 charge.

"But it's the same seat on the same flight - I'd already booked it and all they needed to do was change the name to Haydn Gray instead of Caroline Gray," she said.

"It just doesn't seem like Jetstar are doing the right thing here, even though I know they think they're being nice by waiving the change fee."

She said in the end she had refused to pay and that her son would have to miss out on Splash Planet.

A spokeswoman for Jetstar said Gray had been offered a full refund for her flight under the airline's compassionate refund policy, but that if Gray's husband was to use the ticket the fare difference would have to be paid.

However Gray said the airline had "definitely not offered a refund". 

"All this hassle and the extra expense is just the last thing we need right now, when I'm sick," she said.

"We haven't told Benji he won't be going yet... But he'll be sad as there's been a lot of talk about the trip."

Gray's mother-in-law had flown to New Zealand from the UK to help care for the Benji and his five-year-old brother James while their mother recuperated. 

 - Stuff

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