An Australian couple is warning other travellers to be careful when booking holidays after a small error left them forking out thousands of dollars on new flights.

Phil and Kate told A Current Affair they had paid A$2400 (NZ$2580) each for return tickets from Brisbane to Europe using a third-party site, Student Universe.​

But when they turned up at the airport, Kate was told at the Virgin check-in counter she couldn’t fly. The reason is that she is named Katherine in her passport, but the ticket was issued to ‘Kate’.

“It was an administrative error, I think I married Kate in church and not Katherine,” said Phil.

Virgin told the couple to contact Student Universe, who then told them they had to cancel the ticket and buy a new one – which now cost A$4700 (NZ$5060).

“I begged them on the phone: ‘Please, you can’t do that – that’s all out holiday money gone in a flash’,” Kate said.

Quentin Long from booking site Australian Traveller warned tourists to always check that the name on the ticket matches the passport.

“It’s not just about security it’s also about visas, it’s about inter-government agencies, it is really, really important,” he said.

A Student Universe spokesperson told Business Insider that the company is bound by airline policies.

“In this instance, name changes were not permitted, meaning the only option was to cancel and rebook the ticket. As we were only made aware by the customer of their error within three hours of the flight departure, this led to further airline imposed charges which could have been avoided by acting earlier.”

Travellers have fallen victim to booking issues with names in the past.

In one case, a Canadian woman said she wasn’t allowed to board her flight because her ticket did not have her middle name on it. Ashley Collins had checked in and collected her luggage tags, but when she went to the counter was told she couldn’t fly because her boarding pass didn’t match her passport.

In 2018, a simple typo made when booking an airline ticket to the United States cost a Christchurch couple more than $2300 to fix.

When Brian Green purchased two airline tickets for about $3000 through MyTrip.com to fly to a family wedding in Boston, he had no idea his wife’s first and last name would end up swapped on the ticket. Green was then shocked to receive a bill for $2322.40 from the Greek company.

“They’re effectively reselling me a seat I’ve already purchased,” he told Stuff.

In an extreme case, one traveller changed his name by deed poll to match the ticket issued to him.

Batman fan Adam Armstrong had a ticket bought for him by his girlfriend’s stepfather using his Facebook ID – Adam West, which is the name of the actor who played Batman in the 1960s TV series.

Ryanair told him they had to reissue the ticket at a cost of £220 (NZ$448) but it was cheaper for Armstrong/West to change his name and get a new passport.

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