Can this trip be saved? Wrong middle name on my airline ticket

Having the wrong name on your airline ticket is no longer a minor inconvenience, now that the TSA has begun enforcing its name-matching requirements for airline tickets. And that could be a show-stopper for Jesse Demastrie and his wife, who are scheduled to fly from Washington to Las Vegas for the holidays.

The problem? Demastrie’s father, who booked the flights through Travelocity, got his wife’s name wrong.

“He inadvertently used my wife’s old middle name,” he says. “She actually dropped her middle name and now uses her maiden name as her middle name. So the ticket she was issued has her correct first and last name but her old middle name.”

Passengers must now provide their full names as they appear on a government-issued ID, their date of birth and their gender when they book a flight.

Demastrie is concerned his wife won’t be allowed on the plane.

I have called United Airlines and Travelocity numerous times and no one will confirm with me that we will have no issues travelling because of this issue.

Do you have any advice for dealing with this? It feels as though the people on the phone are telling me it “should be OK” partly to just get me off the phone.

I am just worried that we will get to the airport and they won’t let my wife travel. I would rather know now and cancel her ticket/book her another one now, rather than have to pay top dollar for a new ticket that day.

I agree with Travelocity and United that Demastrie’s wife should be OK. But I base that on a few things. First, I’ve mediated dozens — if not hundreds — of wrong-name cases, and have only come across a few where an intransigent ticket agent refused to allow a passenger to board.

If Demastrie is allowed to print a boarding pass, then the Secure Flight process is already complete, and there’s no need to argue with an agent when you go through security at the airport. You can read the details at the TSA’s Secure Flight section of its website.

TSA even addresses Demastrie’s situation — to a point.

What if a passenger’s boarding pass and ID do not match exactly?

At the security checkpoint, TSA strives to ensure your identification and boarding pass are authentic and validate you are who you say you are. Small differences in the name on the boarding pass and ID, like middle initials, should not impact your travel. It is not uncommon for the information printed on boarding passes to differ slightly from the information on IDs, depending on the boarding pass printing practices of individual airlines.

Demastrie is already planning to bring a copy of their marriage certificate to show his wife’s maiden name, as well as her passport, which also has her maiden name. But he wants to know if there’s anything else he can do.

I always recommend trying to get any assurances that an airline will make a notation in your reservation in writing, not by phone. He could have contacted Travelocity and United to get something by email.

But Demastrie wants a sure thing, so he’s also purchased a fully-refundable ticket for his wife — just in case.

None of this ought to be necessary. There should be a simple way to change the name on an airline ticket without having to jump through all of these hoops. But there never will be, as long as air carriers make inordinate amounts of money from change fees.

I’m unhappy that neither Travelocity nor United could just edit his wife’s name. Given the government’s requirement that names on tickets and IDs match, it’s the least they could do. But I’m also reasonably confident that the couple will fly to Las Vegas without incident.

So what do you think? Should I mediate this case, or are the Demastries good to go?

Survey says … he’s good to go.

(Photo: jp ellgen/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • BocaJoe

    I know that Jet Blue will make a name change for free, providing it’s a minor error like misspelling or wrong middle name

  • Guest

    Hello, I know this was a while ago but I have found my self in a similar situation and was wondering if anyone knew how this turned out or had some advice for me! I booked as a present for someone and did not realize their first name was actually their middle name. I know have the ticket booked with no first name their middle and sir name. Tickets not refundable and Travelocity and the two airlines we are flying refuse to change (even for a fee) one airline has offered the memo in the account? does anyone have some experience with this or advice?

  • Hjctravel

    hello, I know this was a while ago but I have found my self in a similar situation and was wondering if anyone knew how this turned out or had some advice for me! I booked as a present for someone and did not realize their first name was actually their middle name. I know have the ticket booked with no first name their middle and sir name. Tickets not refundable and Travelocity and the two airlines we are flying refuse to change (even for a fee) one airline has offered the memo in the account? does anyone have some experience with this or advice?

  • Melinda Smith

    It is not uncommon for the information printed on boarding passes to
    differ slightly from the information on IDs, depending on the boarding
    pass printing practices of individual airlines.

    frivolous-tax-arguments-part-ii

  • http://www.facebook.com/rene.gouge Rene Gouge

    My passport has Middle, Maiden and Married name. I divorced since. My NCdrive lic. has My First, Middle, Maiden…will I have to change passport?

    Rene’

  • Grant Ritchie

    Rene,

    I Googled US passport and found this website…

    http://travel.state.gov/passport/renew/renew_833.html

    Hope this helps.

  • Esther Aquino

    United will edit names over the phone. I just called United to explain an issue with my name appearing differently on my foreign passport and my airline ticket. The gal over the phone went ahead and made the correction on the spot so I won’t have any issues with boarding the plane. Perhaps I was lucky and is a case by case basis depending on the rep you connect with via phone.