Wizz Air Now Lets You Book Tickets For Anonymous Passengers

Airline change fees have never made a whole lot of sense. The cost of the fees are in no way correlated to the cost of the airlines processing them, but rather they’re based on what airlines can get away with. That’s why some airlines charge you $200 to change a ticket two days after you make your initial booking, even if you’re only traveling in 10 months.

Other airlines use change fees as a point of differentiation. Southwest is famous for not charging any change fees, while airlines like Alaska and JetBlue offer waived change fees as an elite benefit.

However, there are very few airlines that let you change the names on tickets, even in exchange for a fee. Airlines typically have this policy so that there’s not a secondhand market for tickets. Otherwise people could make a business of buying and selling tickets, either by taking advantage of price increases, or by helping people get out of change fees.

At least one airline is a bit creative when it comes to allowing you to either change the name of a passenger on a ticket, or even book a ticket for an “anonymous” second passenger, who can be named at a later point.

For a while European ultra low cost carrier Wizz Air has offered to change the name on a ticket for a fee of 45EUR. You can change the name of a passenger on a ticket online for 45EUR, as long as you do so at least three hours before departure. Overall I’d say that’s a reasonable fee, but then again, that’s around the same cost as many of Wizz Air’s fares, so the savings will vary depending on the particular flight.

They’ll even let you change the name on a ticket for free if there was a typo, which they define as follows (it’s nice to see an airline with a formal policy on this, as it’s quite rare):

Name change is free of charge online if a misspelled name or a typo needs to be corrected :

  • if there are maximum 3 characters to be changed in the name added to your booking
  • if you need to extend an the abbreviated name (eg.: John T. Shmith) to a full name ( eg.: John Thomas Smith) in order to match your travel document
  • if you need to change the gender (title) of the name added to your booking

You can only make one free name change correction in your booking.

However, it looks like the airline has now come up with a new potential revenue stream from passenger name changes. If you’re making a reservation for at least two passengers, Wizz Air will let you decide who the second passenger is at a later point, in exchange for a small fee.

For example, for a flight from Skopje to Bratislava, the fee is ~12USD.

I appreciate the idea behind this, and would love to see more airlines offer this. This isn’t that different than the airlines that let you pay to hold a ticket for an extended period of time before purchasing it, which I also view as a positive.

Could you see yourself paying a fee for an “anonymous” passenger feature?

(Tip of the hat to YHBU)

Comments

  1. @Lucky,
    “Otherwise people could make a business of buying and selling tickets, either bu taking advantage of price increases”

    Might want to fix the “bu” to by.

  2. Sorry, the only ‘wizz’ I know is what I take while aiming Pete at the urinal. Why would anybody name an airline after #1?

  3. @Lucky. Thank you for reporting on this Hungarian airline which was created after Malev went bankrupt. They have amazingly low fares within Europe.
    @JustinFlys. Here you can read about how the name was chosen: http://valasz.hu/uzlet/magyar-fapadon-9312. If the Hungarian language is not your forte, basically the article says that a London-based company, FutureBrand helped to create the name and image of the company. They wanted to create a name which indicated “youthful dynamism”.

  4. Do they require one passenger to be named? Is that what stops a ticket broker from coming and buying up all the inventory?

  5. @ Elijah and callum, just ignore it. Trolls live for the outraged reaction.

    It’s not a bad plan. If you didn’t have name changes at all, people would indeed set themselves up as ticket brokers in a secondary market, resulting often in higher costs to consumers and profits for people other than the airlines, which the airlines don’t want. The airlines are particularly vulnerable to this because of their yield management models. The brokers would scoop up the low priced seats on a given flight, then resell them at the then current higher price, or maybe with a small discount from that. Buy up all the $300 seats, then when only fares of $400 are available to the public, resell at $379 or something and advertise it as a bargain.

    If one passenger has to be named, it takes away the profit for a broker in the most likely situations. I’m not sure, though, how many people make travel plans knowing there will be two travelers for sure, but not knowing who the second will be. I can see it happening sometimes, but it must be a rather small percentage of the time.

  6. @Mitch Cumstein: no US gateway cities. The closest one is Reykjavik (Iceland). But they cover Europe very well.

  7. Interesting plan. Doesn’t it affect security though if they don’t have as much time to verify your identity against the no fly list and that it’s a real identity?

  8. @adam, probably depends the jurisdiction to which they fly…Some countries have a policy of the timing of when the list of pax needs to be transmitted…But in the US people can walk up and buy a ticket, so who knows.

    This is a great idea. What if you are trying to decide which girl you want to take on the trip with you?! Or if you booked with your girl and you dump her and decide to take #2?! genius!

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