Arbitrage, sort of

by on June 7, 2015 at 4:55 am in Economics, Travel | Permalink

A student has changed his name by deed poll because it was cheaper than paying a “ridiculous” Ryanair charge for a booking error.

Adam Armstrong, 19, was presented with a £220 administration fee after his girlfriend’s stepfather mistakenly reserved a seat to Ibiza for him with the budget airline under the surname of West.

Armstrong, who is studying for a foundation degree in digital marketing at Leeds City College, changed his name to West for free and drove to Liverpool to rush through a new passport for £103.

Several airlines charge more than £100 to make minor changes to bookings as highlighted by the Guardian in the past.

The article is here, via Michael Rosenwald.

1 Steve Sailer June 7, 2015 at 5:49 am

The current Adam West is 86 and he can’t go on making Batman-related personal appearances forever, so this seems like a smart move. As Andy Warhol has been famous for saying for the last 47 years, in the future everybody will be famous for 150 years.

2 Robert June 8, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Adam West has a voice actor part on Family Guy, that keeps him gainfully employed

3 Jer June 7, 2015 at 9:01 am

I have no sympathy. A well-rounded, diverse services industry system needs to include high-risk, high-penalty, suffer-no-idiots, all-or-nothing players — as with payday loans, etc. However, if the consequences are not clear in advance, society should intervene. There should never be Caveat Emptor in a just society, but there should be the opportunity for painfully close.

4 Jer June 7, 2015 at 9:08 am

That being said: maybe there should also be a ‘deadbeat rating’ system, similar to a personal credit rating system, that disallows perennial idiots from buying into some high-risk-low-benefit activities for the purposes of protecting society from the inevitable consequences of rehabilitating the ne’er-do-wells (lotteries, payday loans, Las Vegas, high-rate credit cards) – attached to their government-issued ID at time of purchase – just sayin’.

5 Rahul June 7, 2015 at 12:04 pm


6 Mark Thorson June 7, 2015 at 12:08 pm

It appears to be some sort of Markov chain comment generator.

7 Ian June 7, 2015 at 9:22 am

Seems like a great example of “digital marketing”. This guy surely deserves his degree.

8 Ray Lopez June 7, 2015 at 9:44 am

@Ian – I bet it’s harder to change your name in the USA, with more ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation. Gone are the good old days when anybody could go into a graveyard and pick out the name of an infant and assume their identity.

9 Sam Haysom June 7, 2015 at 9:44 pm

It was actually that Forsyth book Day of the Jackal I believe that did away with that.

Forsyth also rather crappily divulged MI5’s practice of bugging IRA caskets to pick up Intel on reprisal attacks too.

10 ibaien June 7, 2015 at 12:16 pm

i recently flew on spirit airlines, ‘america’s only two star airline’, and i have to admit i rather enjoyed trying to outwit all of their fees, swindles, and hustles. each page of the booking process was a little puzzle, with tiny boxes that needed to be checked or unchecked, forms that needed to be filled in precisely, and danger at every turn. that all said, i booked r/t BOS-CLE a day prior to traveling for $100. keep your wits about you and fly cheap.

11 Mark Thorson June 7, 2015 at 12:35 pm

That sounds like the basis for a website, app, or at least a youtube video. Follow your passion.

12 Affe June 7, 2015 at 12:41 pm

I’m thinking erotic thriller. 50 Shades of Fine Print.

13 JonFraz June 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Spirit only got like that in the last few years. Ten years ago I used to fly them from Tampa to Detroit and they were just a cheap airline (~$140 round trip), with none of the special fees and deceptive pricing.

14 mkt June 11, 2015 at 3:10 am

Frontier Airlines has become like that too.

15 Mark in CA June 7, 2015 at 12:51 pm

In addition to the 103 pounds for the new passport and the gas+ for the ride to/from Liverpool, won’t the new Mr. West also have to update his drivers license, school ID, credit/debit cards, bank accounts and anything else that uses his old name?

16 Mark Thorson June 7, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Can’t he just change it back next week?

17 Alain June 7, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Won’t he need to buy a new passport then? His surplus in that case would become rather thin.

18 Mark Thorson June 7, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Maybe the original passport would work.

19 Jay June 8, 2015 at 1:05 pm

I don’t think they let you keep 2 passports at once or they make the previous one invalid somehow.

20 Enrique Guerra-Pujol June 7, 2015 at 5:57 pm

I suspect the name policy on airline tickets doesn’t really make us any safer–that it’s just another way for the airline industry to nickel-and-dime their customers

21 bdbd June 8, 2015 at 11:36 am

This is a little dated, but still holds true

22 dearieme June 7, 2015 at 6:33 pm

A student who is short of money would not drive from Leeds to Liverpool; he would use his student railcard to travel by train really cheaply. And that way he wouldn’t risk the good people of Liverpool stealing his hubcaps either.

23 Larry Siegel June 8, 2015 at 12:08 am

What an idiot. Cool as “Adam West” is, his two names will be a hassle for the next several years. He may have trouble collecting his NHS, unemployment, and educational benefits.

In the United States, an airline ticket bought in the name of someone who doesn’t exist is completely worthless.

He probably would have saved money and trouble by just buying a new ticket.

24 JonFraz June 8, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Presumably those systems are all used to handling name changes and can do so efficiently. After all, even in the UK most women go through names changes when they marry and, maybe, divorce.

25 Adrian Ratnapala June 8, 2015 at 1:18 am

Hmm, Ryanair and many other industries seem to feed off opaque pricing. I can’t tell if @jer is being serious or not; but I think if the law ever gets involved, it should be skeptical of Ryanair and their ilk.

If you say “caveat emptor” then you create an incentive for vendors to make the pricing models harder and harder to understand. Even wary customers now no longer have useful price signals. Whereas if you intepret vagueness (including the vaguness of unread small-print) in favour of the customer, then contracts will be better written.

26 Stephen June 9, 2015 at 9:42 am

Any negative comments are forgetting the fact that newspapers like this pay about £1000 for such stories, so he has in fact made money.

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