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No refund from BA for woman barred from flight over maiden name issue

UK national Valerie Young was turned away despite showing her marriage certificate. She and her husband lost over £1,250 in flight costs for the trip to family in Canada

BA would not accept a passenger’s marriage certificate as proof of identity in the case of vaccination documentation showing a different name to travel documents Pic: Ceri Breeze / Shutterstock

A British woman denied boarding on a British Airways flight because her vaccination certificate showed her maiden name as is the French practice while her passport carried her married name has not been offered a refund nor replacement tickets. 

Valerie Young, 69, says she is particularly aggrieved as she had taken her marriage certificate with her to show having heard of issues with the mismatch of names – as this was what British Airways had previously advised.

She was travelling to Canada with her husband John to visit their daughters and grandchildren, whom they had not seen for nearly three years. 

Read more: Woman vaccinated in France denied BA flight due to maiden name issue

However, when they arrived at Manchester Airport on November 1, they were refused boarding because of the mismatched names on Ms Young’s vaccination and travel documents. 

Mr and Ms Young lost over £1,250 on flights, £80 on PCR tests and more than £160 on insurance, as well as the cost of their taxi home from Manchester Airport.

France’s Assurance Maladie databases – from which vaccination certificates are generated in France – normally use women’s maiden names but depending on their nationality their travel documents will often show their married name only. 

This particularly affects women who have a UK or US passport, which do not generally include maiden names in the case of a change of the name currently used. 

A BA spokesman previously told The Connexion: "If a customer could show proof of a marriage certificate with their maiden name, they would be accepted for travel despite the discrepancy between the names given on their vaccination and travel documents."

Ms Young said: “We did present my marriage certificate, and the check-in person said she would ring Heathrow to check but we were still refused. 

“The staff seemed unsure what to do and BA’s helpline just kept saying ‘try again later’ and we were left stranded at Manchester Airport. 

“We have suffered enough throughout this pandemic and now our glimmer of normality – being reunited with our daughters and grandsons – has been taken away by BA.”

The Connexion has contacted BA on several occasions to determine how this happened and whether all staff are aware of the possibility of using a marriage certificate to prove one’s identity.

A spokesperson said that Ms Young was refused boarding because of a “mistake” made by staff at the airport and that “we're sorry for the customer's recent experience and we're in contact with them.”

They would not add any further details.

BA have written to Ms Young to apologise for the error, adding that “generally a marriage certificate is proof enough to allow customers to travel.”

However, she and her husband have not yet been offered a refund or new tickets for another flight.

In theory, this issue should not affect women who are able to present a marriage certificate in order to prove the change from their maiden name to their married name. 

However, if you are refused travel, you may be able to get around any issues by taking a PCR or antigen test before your flight departs, depending on the entry requirements of your destination country.

For this, you should check that your departure airport has a testing facility and consider arriving early to give yourself time to get the results before you need to check-in. 

This solution will nonetheless only work for certain journeys, and could not have solved Ms Young’s predicament, as ‘unvaccinated’ people cannot enter Canada for “discretionary” or non-essential reasons. 

Related stories 

‘French Covid certificate maiden name issue almost cost me my flight’

UK passport not stamped on exit from France: Will this cause problems?

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