Almost one-in-three people who book flights online have suffered a technical problem or made a mistake when booking and 14% have paid more for a flight as a result.
One-in-40 had ended up buying a new ticket at full cost as a consequence.
This astonishing error rate and its cost to consumers was revealed by an Ipsos MORI survey of more than 2,000 consumers carried out on behalf of the Air Transport Users Council (AUC).
The AUC said the results corroborate its data on air passenger complaints and has demanded airlines allow online purchasers 24 hours after making a booking to make a change or claim a refund. The AUC is the consumer council for UK air travellers and lobbies industry and government on their behalf.
The survey found 17% of respondents had made a mistake by entering the wrong information when booking a ticket online, of whom 58% – or 10% of the total – were out of pocket and 9% (1.5% of the total) had paid for a new ticket.
A further 13% of respondents had experienced a technical problem such as a glitch in the system leading to a duplicate booking, with 29% of these (4% of all respondents) also out of pocket and 8% (or 1% of the total) compelled to buy a new ticket.
The AUC report on the survey concludes: “We receive a large number of complaints from passengers who have had problems making a reservation, and often these passengers can be significantly out of pocket.
“The results suggest significant numbers of consumers may have problems booking tickets online. Some were out of pocket even when the problem was caused by technical glitches. The results suggest glitches with airlines’ own reservations systems are more widespread than airlines might like us to think.”