Help, the names on my kids’ airline tickets are wrong — what should I do?

By | June 12th, 2013

arrowHeather Matinde’s problem is fairly common, but when it happens to you, it can sure seem like the end of the world. She’d just paid a small fortune for airline tickets from Los Angeles to Brussels on Expedia, only to discover a serious problem with her sons’ reservation.

Each boy had each others’ middle names on their tickets, and the airline was balking at making a correction. Unfortunately, Matinde didn’t reach out to Expedia and the airline, Jet Airways, within 24 hours and — you guessed it — the airline was refusing to fix the names.

But Matinde wasn’t freaking out about it. Instead, she’d stumbled across my site, and appropriately enough, my error page in which I quoted the great surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, who said, “Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. Never try to correct them.”

I love that quote, because halfway through my career as a consumer advocate, I feel as if I’ve made almost every mistake in the book. And as Salvador suggests, I have learned to embrace them.

“It puts a positive spin on the situation,” said Matinde.

I like that outlook.

I decided to contact Expedia to see if 1) she really needed to get this fixed; and 2) If it could help.

Before I get to Expedia’s answer, let me make one more point. Some of you will probably be saying to yourself, “She should have used a real travel agent.” I understand. But a lot of “real” agents don’t do these simple point-to-point airline tickets — there’s just no money in them. Most people turn to an online travel agency or book directly, and that’s where problems like this happen.

Related story:   Did Delta do enough for this delayed passenger?

Turns out this is a borderline case. The TSA would have probably let her sons through, dismissing this as a small difference. Also, the airline should have fixed the names on the tickets at the airports without charging anything extra; most airlines do.

Expedia takes it from here:

Thank you for contacting Expedia on behalf of Ms. Matinde. Expedia’s records found that the customer booked a flight reservation validated by Jet Airways for four travelers online for roundtrip travel beginning September 3, 2013 from Los Angeles, California to Brussels, Belgium. There was also a connecting flight in Newark, New Jersey.


Expedia’s records show that the customer misspelled the names of children, age 13 and 6, as Cody Joseph Matinde and Ian Ochieng Matinde. The names should have read as Cody Odhiambo Matinde and Ian Okinyi Ishmael Matinde.

Expedia advocated on the customers behalf and was told by Jet Airways that without exception, tickets are non-transferable and the names cannot be changed. The Expedia representative was also informed that although middle names are not required, to avoid problems they suggest splitting the incorrect names from the ticket and exchanging them for a fee of $100 per person for a total of $200, as long as the same flights in the same class of service are available. This change would cover all airlines associated with the ticket, preventing additional name correction fees.

It’s an offer Matinde gratefully accepted.

There are at least two really important lessons to be learned. First, and most obviously, always double-check the names on your tickets before you click the “buy” button. Remember the DOT 24-hour rule, which allows you to fix the mistake, with certain limitations.

But second, I think these name changes are too often used to generate more money for the airline. Look at these reservation change fees for 2012: $2.5 billion, according to the U.S. government.

Does anyone really think another passenger named Cody Joseph Matinde would steal Cody Odhiambo Matinde’s ticket and use it for nefarious purposes on a flight to Belgium?

Yeah, neither do I.

I’m happy Expedia helped resolve this DIY error, but I think I’m leaning towards Dalí’s interpretation of this case. Why correct it?

Note (June 13, 2013): Some of the comments on this post went a little sideways yesterday, veering into territory this site tries to avoid. After a slew of flaggings by readers, our moderator team consulted late today and early yesterday and deleted some of the threads that violated our comments policy. We didn’t take this action lightly. We favor an open debate, but we also want the comments to be reasonable — and readable. Thank you for your understanding.

Did Jet Airways do enough for Heather Matinde?

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  • y_p_w

    Why use a middle name if you don’t have to? It’s just one more gotcha where the airlines could easily change it for free but charge because they can.

  • bodega3

    Those middle names that the mother gave and what the carrier said they are, are not even the same so what’s up with that? The carrier did a good thing for them at a reasonable price.

  • jmtabb

    You add a middle name because otherwise the kid gets identified as a potential threat because his name is on the “no fly list”.

    It’s happened to my nephew, who was 5 when the “no fly” list was created. His name is common enough that he now ALWAYS adds his middle name to the reservation. And yes, as a 9 year old, they almost didn’t let him board because his name was on the “no fly” list. Even as the agent was speaking into a phone to someone saying “it’s a 9 year old boy…. yes, he’s standing right here and I’m sure he’s a minor child…” it seemed clear to everyone except that mysterious person on the other end of the phone that this kid was not the terrorist they were looking for.

  • PsyGuy

    Seriously, some parents need to read this.

    http://www.stupidkidnames.com

  • mobiuschic42

    Jeez – I shouldn’t feed the troll, but…all it takes is a quick Google search to see that Odhiambo is a common African name. Just because something isn’t a “word” you know, doesn’t mean it’s not a valid name. “Sarah”, “Peter”, and “James” are NOT WORDS in the English language either, but I doubt you would object to them. Just because someone chooses a name you’re unfamiliar with doesn’t make it any less of a name.

    Furthermore, having 2 (or more) middle names is a fine old white, European tradition, so you’re wrong on that count too.

    Also, the United States restricts names to the roman alphabet, so I highly doubt you’ve ever actually met any one with a symbol for a name.

    That being said, it is odd that these boys’ names on their tickets were sooo far off from their legal middle names. I wonder if she made these reservations over the phone – in which case she should’ve triple checked when she got email confirmation.

  • backprop

    Am I missing something? How did the mother misspell the middle names of her kids so badly? She wasn’t even close. The article said that she swapped each others’ middle name, but that does not appear to be the case either.

  • TonyA_says

    The 24 hour REFUND rule only applies to tickets bought directly from the airline. But that means that you will cancel and refund. You can buy another ticket using the correct name as it appears on the passport but you will pay todays current price, not yesterdays.

    Many travel agencies do simple oneway and rountrip ticketing. That is our bread and butter. There may be a reasonable service fee because European destinations normally are non-commission tickets.

    The number one advantage for using a live person agency is you can usually get up to 72 hours to buy a ticket for your international reservation and things can get straightened out during that time. I usually tell my customers to go look at passport first and make sure it is not expired or expiring yet, and then email me the names exactly as they appear on the passport together with the date of birth and gender.

    For my regular clients, I keep a copy of their passport and make a text file of their names, phone numbers, etc. Then it is a simple copy and paste regardless what GDS or website I need to use to get the job done with no errors.

  • PsyGuy, did it occur to you that they might be Nigerian? Or another nationality? Do you always make fun of other people’s cultures and languages?

  • We shouldn’t be distracted by the actual names in this story. The real issue is how airlines handle name corrections — or more to the point, how the don’t.

  • $16635417

    Years ago, during the height of the cold war, a friend visited Soviet Russia on a university exactly sponsored trip. He was instructed to provide his full name…exactly as it appeared on his passport…and his ticket was issued to match that name. He had a second middle name, but that was not on his passport or his ticket or any other documents he was traveling with. Upon arrival in Moscow, he was detained for about 90 minutes as the immigration officers noted a “discrepancy”. It turns out they KNEW he had a second middle name even though it was not on his passport! While his ticket was an exact match for his passport, they still were trying to figure out if they should let him in.

    He assumed when he applied for a visa, they may have pulled a copy of his birth certificate as part of the approval process and somehow noted that in his “file”. When he arrived at Moscow, he had to go up the ladder to get someone to sign off on letting him in the country.

  • lost_in_travel

    Same thing happened to my son even with two valid middle names and only because he had a US passport for identification (for a domestic flight) was he allowed on the plane. Happened so often that I started making separate reservations so at least one of the family could check in early for SW flights. We did the TSA paperwork but could only produce two, not three, forms of ID for an 8 year old so we were not at all sure it would be accepted. We had the Town Clerk, who had to certify his birth certificate and passport copies, laughing every time she saw me for several years afterwards about how foolish this was. We were friends so this was ok. BTW we are born in the USA Northeast WASP and it was not even an unusual name.

  • TonyA_says

    A long time ago, I also went to the USSR. That was the time when they were still trying to buy your blue jeans from you and (chewing) gum was the best currency to get Russian waiters to serve you caviar in state owned hotel dining rooms. If you have an American passport you go to a separate line. Every item in your luggage is inspected and your underwear is aired out in public. I never desired to go back – Communist or not. Today I do not understand why people pay big bucks to take cruises over there.

    The name search you mentioned are also employed by the USA and Japanese Governments that issues VISAS overseas. They hire private investigative agencies to go to (even the small towns) where the Visa applicant was born and get their birth certificates. If the names do not match with the applicant’s name, the visa is denied. So do not be shocked about this practice since even your own government is doing it TODAY.

  • “Every item in your luggage is inspected and your underwear is aired out in public.”

    Gee, sounds like the actions of another agency we all know.

  • TonyA_says

    LOL. What is even more interesting is how people like her find Chris Elliott.

  • TonyA_says

    But the agency we all know also want to touch and feel you :)

  • TonyA_says

    Not distracted but maybe the OP is. If you do not know your kids’ names or cannot read Expedia’s Important Flight Information right below the amount you need to pay, something is definitely wrong with YOU (the buyer) not with Expedia or the airline.

    If I have a customer do the same thing, I will have to spend so much time to fix her problem if she discovers it after 24 hours. People need to be more responsible for their own errors.

  • backprop

    I agree that the names themselves shouldn’t be a distraction.

    But whether the airline should be lenient in this case, I think, hinges on the nature of the mistake that was made. According to the entry, the OP said she swapped the kids’ middle names. If that was the mistake that was actually made, then my vote would be for leniency as much as possible.

    But in this case, it looks like she used entirely wrong names.

    Odhiambo was written as Joseph

    Okinyi Ishmael was written as Ochieng

    Those aren’t transpositions…they’re just entirely wrong. If I were an airline rep, I’d be hesitant to be lenient on the supposed grounds that the names were simply swapped.

  • Kevin Mathews

    Ok Chris, Little confused here:

    “Each boy had each others’ middle names on their tickets” – This would imply to me that she simply flip flopped their middle names with each other…

    But then Expedia goes on with: “Cody Joseph Matinde and Ian Ochieng Matinde. The names should have read as Cody Odhiambo Matinde and Ian Okinyi Ishmael Matinde”

    Cody Joseph Matinde –> Cody Odhiambo Matinde
    Ian Ochieng Matinde –> Ian Okinyi Ishmael Matinde

    Not even close to simply switching each other’s names around… so which is it? Did she butcher their names or simply switch them around?

    I can completely understand the airline’s stance here because these could literally be completely different people given the completely different names being applied here.

    I mean seriously, I could understand getting names switched up. Happens to me all the time with my two sons when I yell out their names, but this isn’t simply switching and swapping names around. This is almost like she didn’t know her kid’s names…

  • Kevin Mathews

    Actually, Peter is a word… :-)
    Verb
    Decrease or fade gradually before coming to an end: “the storm had petered out”.

  • BillCCC

    I was going to vote no until I reread that changes that had to be made. From the airline POV it might appear that the tickets are for two completely different people. They might have had a real problem returning even if they did get out of the country.

    “Each boy had each others’ middle names on their tickets” This is entirely wrong, each boy had a completely different middle name entered on the ticket. Since she waited until 24 hours prior to the flight to make the change this would raise red flags.

    I think what the airline did was reasonable and probably saved the family some trouble.

  • TonyA_says

    I agree. There’s is no way we can figure out if these are even the same people.

  • TonyA_says

    This is interesting. In East Africa (more specifically, the Luo people of Kenya and Tanzania);
    ODHIAMBO means (a boy) “born in the evening”.
    OCHIENG means (a boy) “born when the sun shines”.

  • Sherry K

    She didn’t wait until 24 hours prior to the flight to make the changes. The flight isn’t until September 3, 1013.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Yeah, if you can’t remember your own kids’ names, maybe you should’ve named ’em “Jack” or something simple.

    And as far as “each boy had the other’s middle name on the ticket…”
    That’s not true. It appears that the names were completely different.

  • deemery

    I think a legal remedy should be passed. Airlines should be required to fix name errors without fee.

  • Raven_Altosk

    My fiance is a teacher. She had a kid whose FULL AND LEGAL FIRST/MIDDLE NAME was….
    …are you ready for this…
    …because it’s ridiculous…

    MONEY MAJIK
    MONEY MAJIK

    Some dumbass named their child that. That ain’t cultural or ethnic.
    That’s just stupid.

    When she told me this, I even called her a liar…and then she logged in to her school gradebook and proved it.

  • TonyA_says

    Theoretically, the airline does not give a damn what your middle name is. As far as they are concerned, they only want to prevent passenger “switcheroos”.

    The real problem is with the TSA:

    (1) if your name has a match with the do not fly list

    (2) if the name in your boarding pass is so different from the name printed in your ID.

    The first can be addressed by entering the complete passenger’s name and date of birth and gender (see TSA’s Secure Flight Passenger Data) or getting a redress number.
    The second can be avoided by using the same name in the reservation (as that which appears in the ID).

    Blaming the airline for not being flexible is unfair. They have nothing to do with the TSA’s policy.

  • Raven_Altosk

    But what is a name error? In this case, it isn’t even as the OP states–the names are totally different. What if she has four kids, and decided that instead of taking the original two on the trip, she’s swapping in the other kids? That’s a ticket change, not a name change, bro.

  • I can see the confusion. Even Expedia appears to not understand who’s who. I think the customers were lucky to get a resolution.

  • TonyA_says

    Get a redress number. Maybe your son has the same or similar name with someone in the do not fly list.
    Nothing to do with you being a WASP. Maybe you simply have a name in common with a criminal or wanted person.

  • “Blaming the airline for not being flexible is unfair. They have nothing to do with the TSA’s policy.”

    Tony, true to a certain extent. But the airlines have a lot of power. If they make a stink, policy changes. It’s already happened twice: with the liquids rule, and with the little-knives rule. The policies were changed because the airlines got up in arms. I’ll stop here because we’re not allowed to talk about this stuff anymore.

  • deemery, certainly without such an exorbitant fee. 100 bucks per person?? Maybe Chris can give us some insight on why it costs so much money to make what looks like a keystroke change. Meaning you hit a different letter on a computer keyboard. Asking a serious question here.

  • Alan Gore

    As an IT person I can tell you that “Jet Airways” (whatever that might be) screwed this poor woman for about ten times the real cost of changing a passenger record with no change of reservation. An industry standard, unfortunately.

  • Andrew F

    “As far as they are concerned, they only want to prevent passenger “switcheroos”.” That’s true, but under that pretense they charge exorbitant fees for correcting a name when it is quite obvious that a simple mistake was made.

  • TonyA_says

    No one is forcing you to change your name in your ticket. No one entered it other than you. If you do not agree with the fees, do NOT buy a ticket.

  • TonyA_says

    When did she ask for a change? More than 24 hours AFTER SHE BOUGHT A TICKET?

  • backprop

    Revenue protection – otherwise people would buy up the tickets on a cheap fare class, wait for the price to go up, and then re-sell them, getting the airlines to change the name to reflect the buyer. The airlines don’t want a secondary market for tickets.

  • But what about a simple spelling error? Fat-fingering a keyboard? I’m not saying that’s what happened here, just wondering about that in general. Over the phone once an airline agent misspelled my husband’s middle name. We had a helluva time getting it fixed. I don’t see how it’s fair to charge somebody $100 for that.

  • Bill___A

    First of all, the “use a travel agent” argument, they make far more mistakes on my travel than I’ve ever done. Secondly when I do use expedia (or a travel agent for that matter), the middle name is always truncated and appended to the first name, and the middle name part is left blank. This is annoying and improper. Recently, the airlines have been correcting this when you check in. When their machine scans my passport, it offers to correct the name to that on my passport. Since it offers to correct the corrupted first name and the blank middle name, it would be interesting to know if it would have fixed this error.
    We all know the name change rules are in place to stop person A from selling their discounted ticket to person B. However, it all too often results in problems as we see here. Maybe they should be doing something so typos can be accommodated while ensuring no fraud.

  • backprop

    My guess only? The airlines don’t want to open that floodgate. A fat finger error can probably find a sympathetic agent to make the change, but if you codify into the terms and conditions that some name changes are OK, somebody will be there to exploit it. Or at least that’s the fear.

  • Michael__K

    Completely different people with the same dates of birth and first and last names?

  • emanon256

    I was wondering that too. Is it possible she called Expedia and the rep didn’t understand the names, so made them up? In that case, I think Expedia should eat the cost of the change. However, if she entered them incorrectly, then she should, and I am glad it was $100 instead of the what is it now $300 a person intentional change fee. I am just confused as to how someone could type the wrong names for their own kids.

  • backprop

    Well, the first names are still Cody and Ian, as on the original tickets. So I don’t think it’s a deliberate ticket change. But I’d still like to know what the heck happened with screwing up her own kids’ middle names so bad.

  • emanon256, I wondered that, too. Does Expedia even have phone agents? I’ve only ever used Expedia once or twice, and I did it on-line. I don’t know if they have another way of making a reservation.

  • TonyA_says

    Alan, we do not determine your IT hourly rate so why do you get to determine the airline’s agent’s hourly rate? A human being is needed to make a name change just in case you do not know. The airline is free to charge what it wants to charge. The charges for change and reissue is on the fare rules and tariff.

  • TonyA_says

    They do. Cost you about $25 to call.

  • LJBROCK

    Exactly what I was thinking! How could the mom not get the names right, no matter WHAT they’re names are??

  • emanon256

    I am very sensitive to cultural differences and foreign names. For quite a few years I predominantly worked with people form all over the world, and saw many names that were unusual to me, and I embraced them. But I have started seeing some odd names pop up in the US, these are not foreign names, they are “Creative Parenting” names. Some of these creative names I think are actually quite creative and unique and I like them. However, there were some at a previous client, that I just didn’t understand. This was an institute of higher education. The consultant working with their admissions department showed me names that the system suspended for followup because they had special characters, and Admissions followed up with the students to get the correct name and/or pronunciation. The correct names were (First names):

    J’ Pronounced: Jaypostrophy
    L-A Pronounced: La Dasha
    D’ Pronounced, Da Comma to da Toppa

    Those names just floored me. I understanding wanting to be creative and unique, but in my opinion, those seemed to go too far.

  • tio2girl

    As she gladly accepted Expedia’s solution, which was a $200 fee overall if I read the post correctly, sounds like she did indeed accept responsibility for her error. It may be more lenient than what they were required to do, but still not chump change for a name change.

  • TonyA_says

    FYI. The data entered for Secure Flight Passenger Data is supposed to be confidential. A travel agency is only supposed to key in the data and pass on the information, not store them. As soon as we enter them we trash them unless the passenger tells us to keep them so they do not need to tell us again and again when they buy more tickets.

    That said, the GDS masks most of the data (SSR DOCS) after entry. Europe has even a more stricter standard for Privacy than the USA. Except for the fact that you also have to enter a child’s date of birth to validate a child’s fare, I am quite shocked Expedia kept the private data of the passengers. A 13 year old is an adult passenger so no need to keep age or date of birth for that pax.

    Airlines and agencies are becoming more and more data gatherers for the government and we get blamed for errors. That is not fair.

  • TonyA_says

    How about their father(s)? You think he (they) will know any better?

  • emanon256

    In certain Asian countries, children are all given the same first name, and different middle names. Sounds odd here, but would explain what Raven is saying. I would still like to know what happened as well, who doesn’t know their own kids names. My theory is she did it over the phone and the rep made up the names because she/he wasn’t familiar with them.

  • emanon256

    I see the number on their website. I have only had to call when hey have screwed up, which was often. I no longer use them.

  • TonyA_says

    If so, meaning the first given name did not change, WHY change the middle name in the PNR? I think it was not necessary. Why go to all this trouble?

  • LJBROCK

    Father(s), Mother(s)….Yes….they should know their children’s names!!

  • EdB

    My favorite unique, but normal, name was the daughter of one guy I went to college with. Their last name was Moss. They had a little girl born Christmas Day, so they named her Christina, or Chris for short. Never forget her, Chris Moss. :)

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Sorry, but I’m declaring shenanigans. Parents know the name of their child, even if it is an unusual name. If I had to guess, I’d say someone at NSA got fat fingers… ;-)

  • TonyA_says

    Ahem. Expedia’s reissue fee is $250 per ticket. Not $100.
    Please take a look at the huge pic I attached.

    Elliott helped got the change fee reduced to $100.
    She did not gladly accept Expedia’s or the Airline’s NORMAL change fee.
    Your statement is quite misleading :)

  • jmtabb

    I do a lot of business in Russia, and this hyper examination of everything to make sure that every comma, apostrophe and spelling are 100% matched up still happens with every shipment I send there.

    It’s about 25 pages of documents to accompany a single container (loaded with 20 tons of the identical item) – a general contract, a price list, a “specification” to the contract, a “description of goods” statement explaining where the price came from, a copy of the export declaration proving the price the cargo was exported under, a declaration statement that confirms that “container XXXXXXX is part of invoice XXXX” even though the container numbers are all listed on the invoice already…..

    They are looking for an excuse to say “no”, demand extra fees and bribes. They make up new rules every few months in order to trip up yet another shipment. It’s incredible.

  • TonyA_says

    what a country? :)

  • TonyA_says

    Maybe they need a barcode?

  • emanon256

    Ill never forget a kid I went to elementary school with. His name was Justin Case. Also, a friend of mine dated someone named Abbey Rhodes. Her parents were big Beatles fans.

  • tio2girl

    I was not misleading. I said “it may be more lenient than what they were required to do, but still not chump change for a name change.” She did accept responsibility, even if for a lesser charge.

  • LFH0

    This is not a case where there is a ticket transferability question. The tickets were always intended for the given individuals, and there has never been a question relating to be able to transfer the tickets to someone else. And in the same vein, this is not changing a name (i.e. either transfering tickets from one person to another, or changing tickets from one alias to another). This is a case of correcting a name. In virtually every other context, when there is a spelling or other clerical mistake, and where a correction is neither substantive nor prejudicial to the interests of anyone else, a correction is made. Is there any reason here to place form over substance?

  • TonyA_says

    It’s not just Russia. It’s anywhere that is corrupt.

  • Daddydo

    Most airlines are charging $200.00 – $250.00 for changes on international flights. YES there are many travel agencies doing point to point ticketing. In little Clarksburg WV, I do 200 per month. We charge a fee, but we assume and accept all responsibilities for errors. We have had errors and have corrected them for the clients. It takes a trained agent to find all of the oops that can screw up your day. The middle name IS required on tickets as it appears on your accepted Government ID. I personally was stopped, questioned and additional information solicited this past week going to Mexico. My Passport has my full name, but 9 years ago, I signed it with the initial. They do check! 10 minutes extra with TSA and 20 more leaving Mexico. You must have the names exactly.

  • Michael__K

    Expedia’s records show that the customer misspelled the names of
    children, age 13 and 6, as Cody Joseph Matinde and Ian Ochieng Matinde

    That implies to me that they stored the ages in their records.

    Regardless, I don’t blame Expedia for the OP’s error. But if the DOB’s in the Secure Flight Passenger Data remained the same then how bloody likely is it that these are completely different people?

  • TonyA_says

    Ok so now anyone who disagrees with the $250 change fee has to come here and beg :)
    What I am reading between the lines here is that people want the airlines to have a REASONABLE NAME CHANGE FEE.
    If you read my post somewhere here, the airline ORIGINALLY was NOT the problem. Only when the government made so many mandates (in the name on national security) did the system get so screwed up.
    Before 9/11, I never read the part that your name on the PNR must match the name on your ID crap.
    So what is REASONABLE? Who will determine that? Me? You? Chris?

  • Charles B

    Sounds to me like the OP didn’t verify the kids documented names. As in she calls them one thing every day, but that’s not what is printed on the birth certificates or passports or whatever. That’s the lesson here: always go with what the documents say. If the docs are wrong, get them fixed outside the airport and in advance of booking.

    It’s not unlike planning a honeymoon trip. If either party is going to change their name, they should still book the trip under the old names. There probably won’t be time between the marriage and the trip to get a passport changed.

  • tio2girl

    I do not disagree with you at all that the airline is following government mandates. I would even say that there are plenty of times when people try to scam the airlines (who in turn are no doubt charging a higher than necessary fee to begin with) to get a name changed on a ticket. But I do think that it was completely appropriate for this customer to approach the airline for a change and even to approach Chris for a change in the fee. She didn’t seem to expect the fee to be waived entirely and was satisfied with the lowered fee. *Asking for leniency – especially when an error has been made – is not the same as not accepting responsibility.* We clearly are not going to agree on this, and I am done here.

  • TonyA_says

    SFPD is not for the airlines (or their agents) to use other than pass along to TSA/DHS.

    Airlines have to do APIS for international flights which includes passport information (and some do-not-fly matching) but that is not relevant here especially for Expedia who is only an agent.

    Even more the travel agencies since we have no business keeping that data.
    It is not meant for agencies to do what you are thinking about making them do (even if you propose something rational). If I am not allowed to use and keep it as an agency then what my records say is inadmissible IMO.

  • amyarrow

    You are correct TonyA however Sherry was responding to BillCCC saying “Since she waited until 24 hours prior to the flight” that is different than 24 hours after buying a ticket.

  • bodega3

    Decades ago the cost to run an airline ticket was approx. $25. To reissue takes more time and paperwork. Your assessment is well off in the cost! In the IT business, which is something I know a lot about since we own one, depending on where you are located will depend on the hourly rate, and I doubt you appreciate being told your are over paid!

  • I have Cameroonian friends whose names are all over the place. A couple with 5 children, and not all the children have the same last names, which constantly confuses the hell out of me, their schoolteachers, and just about everyone else they have to deal with. They’re refugees, and I help them navigate the world of U.S. bureaucracy (when I can — the U.S. bureaucracy bedevils me, too!). I asked the father why he does this, all the different names, and he said it’s something you can do in Cameroon.

    I can’t imagine trying to book tickets for them all; hats off to the UMD Law School students who did it for them on their flights from Cameroon to here.

  • Michael__K

    They don’t need to know what the records say — if they know that you’re not CHANGING the DOB in the SFPD — then isn’t that a pretty good indication that these aren’t completely different people?

  • bodega3

    To purchase an airline ticket in the USA, you have to provide the full name, sex and date of birth for the passenger. So yes, the carrier had this in the PNR.

  • bodega3

    What you think doesn’t matter, especially after 9/11. BEFORE purchasing an airline ticket, people should get the form of ID that is going to be used to check in and have it in front of them so they have the correct name to type in or give to the agent who will be issuing the ticket. It never ceases to amaze me how people don’t know what name is on their own ID’s. If you are that clueless, you should be charged!

  • BillCCC

    My mistake. I still think that the airline’s position was reasonable.

  • bodega3

    Time is money Simeone. Now is the true cost $250? No, but the fees are to discourage people from making changes. Errors, now with the internet, are a whole other issue.

  • TonyA_says

    Mike, as I said, the SSR DOCS info is irrelevant here. The problem is ticket reissue because there is a $250 change fee for an agency to do that on 9W’s fares. Does not matter what you enter for SFPD, the agency MUST collect that $250 change penalty for the airline.

    This is not a case of having to prove someone’s identity to the airline or the travel agency. Even the SAME PERSON will pay $250 to have his/her ticket reissued.

    It sucks more if you have to buy a higher costing booking class since your original ticket was on a cheaper booking class.

    YES this is a tragedy brought about in the name of national security.
    The only solution I know is to do it right the first time OR SORRY.

    PS. I can keep on changing your SFPD info on your PNR for free even after ticketing. But I cannot change your passenger name after I create your reservation.

  • bodega3

    Some airline systems that issue tickets do not recognize the space put in for the middle name. Some allow a period between the first and middle name in the name field to separate the two. Running the names together isn’t a problem and there are just so many letters allowed on the ticket for printout, hence the running together of the names. It has never been a problem for me and I have a long name in the PNR.

  • TonyA_says

    Not exactly true. Some (international) airlines cannot ticket PNRs with long names. It will be rejected. I’ve had this problem a number of times. Come to New York City and you will see many different ethnicity together with their naming conventions.

  • DavidYoung2

    News flash – the TSA doesn’t give a toss either. Since the story states the children are ages 6 and 13, they don’t even have to have ID (nor is a six year old really expected to have much in the way of a ‘secure’ ID.) Since they don’t have to show ID at the TSA checkpoint, it doesn’t really matter what middle name is on the tickets. It could be “Micky Mouse” and “Donald Duck” and the TSA won’t care.

  • Deborah Orth

    So true the actual names are just a side issue at best. Glad you could help Heather and her family out. Honest mistakes do happen

  • Michael__K

    I’m responding to Kevin’s claim that “these could literally be completely different people.”

  • MarkKelling

    If it was Jon to John or Mery to Mary or something similar then I agree with you. But Joseph to Odhiambo is not a clerical error. It is a completely different name and could be a completely different person.

  • emanon256

    I was helping one school clean up duplicate records. We had many records where the students had the same first and last name, same birth date, and ITIN was one or two digits off. They also had completely different transcripts. At first the finance people thought it was some type of fraud, but I told them they are probably just twins from Asia. Turned out, they were twins in every case, and from Asia.

    Also, its not just Asia. Aren’t George Foreman’s sons all named George?

  • Bill___A

    So three minutes at whatever dollars per hour? And a very minimal amount of computer time? They don’t even use up ticket stock nowadays.

  • bodega3

    Since the middle names were completely different than what is on their passport, and were added initially to the PNR, I think the mother was wise to get the change done.

  • bodega3

    There is still the time and paperwork that you don’t see to be done later to consider. I have no problem with the airline’s charging and I think the carrier was very kind to lower the price.

  • TonyA_says

    Ah OK sorry. You know neither Expedia nor the airline brought that issue up. They just (re)stated their policy and did not accuse the Mom of switching paxs.

    We are only ones arguing here in the blog about whether these kids are the same people. But I cannot blame anyone here who is thinking they could be different people judging SOLELY by the (unfamiliar) pax names.

    The way I read it both Expedia and the airline concede that the mother made a data entry mistake (not intending to cheat the airline). Hence, 9W was willing to lower the change/reissue fee after Elliott’s request.
    Certainly $250 is a very stiff fee for an honest mistake in MIDDLE names.
    Problem is airline do not differentiate a simple name correction from a voluntary itinerary change. That is the problem here.
    Maybe the answer is legislation :)

  • Bill___A

    Which is what? Do they go through a hundred dollars worth of effort when I click OK on the automated check in device to match the name with my passport? Maybe they should also charge $100 to enter the address I’m staying at in the USA. Sorry, I don’t buy it. They change the name record on the database, done. Extra paperwork is in collecting that $100 and costing it.

  • Deborah Orth

    All of my friends and family call me Debbie. The actual formal is Deborah but sometimes when I tell people my name they spell it Debra just a couple of letters off but still different and I do not have a unusual name.

  • TonyA_says

    I think people like you should ticket themselves.
    If you do not like Expedia’s or Bodega’s or any travel agent’s fee, then do it yourself please.

  • y_p_w

    Then why do airlines correct names when a passenger is willing to pony up money? They’re certainly flexible enough when money is involved.

  • TonyA_says

    Why not just an OSI message? That’s an Indian carrier and Indian names are very difficult to enter or spell correctly so I have to believe they are quite understanding.

  • y_p_w

    My kid has a secure ID that meets all TSA requirements. It’s not that hard to get one.

    I also want to get our kid a state ID just for kicks, but my wife thinks it would be a waste of time and money.

  • y_p_w

    But the ability to change the name on a reservation has nothing to do with the TSA. It’s not about security but about money to the coffers of the airlines.

  • bodega3

    But when you do an accountable document, you make sure it is spelled correctly. That is the responsibility of each passenger or purchaser.

  • Dutchess

    People voting NO, did you ACTUALLY READ the article??

    “Expedia’s records show that the customer misspelled the names of children, age 13 and 6, as Cody Joseph Matinde and Ian Ochieng Matinde. The names should have read as Cody Odhiambo Matinde and Ian Okinyi Ishmael Matinde.”

    This isn’t a name swap the middle names are COMPLETELY different. My thoughts might be different had this been an actual name swap but how do you not notice this within 24 hours AND how do you screw up your kids’ name so bad without noticing?

  • TonyA_says

    Even then Mark, I don’t believe even Expedia or Jet was thinking the mom was switching passengers. It is easy for us to be totally shocked about how different the names are :) But really that is not the main point. This is really a ticket reissue problem for Expedia. They shouldn’t bear the cost of the $250 change penalty fee 9W has in their fare rules. There is no easy solution for this kind of problem.
    One of the worst lose-lose problems for a TA. :(

  • y_p_w

    Some airlines are willing to do this for free. That tells me that the costs are minimal, but some are just looking to do this as a profit center.

  • bodega3

    So what? You make a mistake, why should a company pick up the cost for your error? At our IT business, we had a client call for immediate help. We went over with them on the phone what is needed to get the problem solved that they said they had. We sent a tech over and the business didn’t have the needed items. Do we just shrug our shoulders and say, ‘Oh well’ and not charge them for the time it took that wasn’t our fault? No, they will get our minimum charge. It is a business with employees to pay. I don’t understand how people who have jobs don’t get this!

  • TonyA_says

    Not only that, since there were 2 real adults with them, it is those 2 who will likely be checked out and simply asked – Your kids? Yup. You get waved through.

  • bodega3

    If you are speaking of WN, they are slowly changing the way they do business as they are finding passengers taking advantage of them.

  • TonyA_says

    Because YOU asked for a reissue, simple.
    What is it with you people? There is NO SUCH THING as a NAME CHANGE on a ticket nowadays.
    It is called a Ticket REISSUE.

  • TonyA_says

    Technically they (WN) have no change fee for reissue. Easy for them because they are really a ticket less carrier.
    But no change fee does not mean the same fare is available :)
    Also the SW money goes back to the account of the passenger so you cannot have a grossly different pax name.
    I’d love to see how the OP can fly her kids to BRU on WN.

  • bodega3

    How do you know what does or doesn’t take place after you make a few clicks?
    I started selling tickets when you could make a name change or correction for no fee. They started charging for several reasons and it isn’t all due to cost.

  • DavidYoung2

    We did the same with a Passport Card so we don’t have to carry her passport book. We also applied last week for a Global Entry card because we’re tired of waiting in lines. I wonder if that can be used as ‘secure ID” for a seven year old.

  • bodega3

    No they don’t have a fee, but a lot of their policies have been changing and this might be one that gets changed in the near future, too. How they set up their business is very different than the major carriers, but thanks to passengers taking advantage of their lenient ways, WN has been tightening their rules.

  • bodega3

    The passport card isn’t good for international air travel.

  • y_p_w

    Sure.

    We deal with contracted services all the time in my business. It’s costing the vendor money every time we call them or every time they send someone offsite. It’s simply a cost of doing business.

    And maybe it is costing them money to reissue a ticket. However, those costs are obviously way out of line with their actual cost to actually do it. If it was costing them $50 to $100 to reissue a ticket, other airlines wouldn’t be willing to do it for free.

  • TonyA_says

    Tell me which airlines that fly LAX-BRU that will allow a free name change?

  • CAHDOT

    THOSE POOR KIDS NAMES ARE VERY COMPLICATED BUT THEY DO NOT NEED ID TO BE SHOWN TILL ????14 I THINK

  • y_p_w

    Every once in a while you hear of someone who gave an airline a sob story and they waived any fees to reissue the tickets with a different name. That tells me it can’t cost them much.

  • y_p_w

    International flight. Passports and/or visas will be required regardless of age.

  • TonyA_says

    Nothing to do with the TSA? What? You must be kidding. Have you read any of Ed Hasbrouck’s work.
    Try this one http://www.papersplease.org/sf_faq.html

  • MarkKelling

    And my teacher friend had a Vietnamese child in her class with a name Phoc Hue. On the fist day of class she wanted everyone to stand up and state their name. He did, she said “excuse me?” he repeated himself and she had to look at the student list to make sure he was not saying something else. They ended up calling him John.

  • Deborah Orth

    Always especially for something like airline tickets sometimes even triple check just to make sue that there is not an added e on the end of my middle namw which is Ann.

  • TonyA_says

    Non sequitur. People’s time (especially American people) costs much, period.

  • TonyA_says

    No Bodega, YOU and I are supposed to work for free :) Go figure where that attitude came from.

  • mablumberg

    One uses a middle name because the name on the ticket must be the same as the name on the passport or other ID.

  • TonyA_says

    I still laugh when someone wants to fly from Fukuoka, Japan to Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. The itinerary will be FUK-YOO :)

  • emanon256

    That’s so sad, I feel badly for how he may have been treated in the US, though I suppose some people would think that was cool. There was a very young trainee I worked with in NY’s whose last name was Sh*t, spelled the same way as the profanity. It was a normal family name where she was from. When people told her what it meant here she was very hurt.

  • TonyA_says

    Bodega, even if we (the industry) want to make a kinder and gentler policy on name change, how can it be done WITHOUT ABUSE?
    How can it be done without expensive human intervention?
    I can’t even think of a way to do it without the current reissue process.
    This is a none starter for all airlines based on what I know.

  • bodega3

    And that vendor is passing that cost on to you in some fashion…count on it!

  • Alan Gore

    I’m basing this on my years spent hacking database: the cost of one minute on the phone, a few seconds of data entry time and the server time to process a single SQL UPDATE command, is probably at most $10 per ticket.

    Now if there had been an actual rebooking – cancel one reservation, make another – there would be the additional probability cost of not being able to resell the vacated place. This is supposedly what justifies the $300 it now costs to actually change a reservation, even one that is still siz months from flight time.

  • bodega3

    Well the airlines decided that several years ago, right :-(

  • TonyA_says

    What about people cost, Alan?

  • Londoner1936

    Make your reservations on the airlines web site (does Jet Airways have one?), and avoid Expedias and similar on line agencies. If you enter the passenger data yourself, do it with the passports in front of you as you do it.

    Ms. Malinte appears to be of African descent or married to someone of that origin; so the boys have an Anglo first name and an African middle name. She needs to be very careful therefore when buying tickets, or putting their names on any official document. My son’s first name is ‘Marc-Alain’ on his French birth certificate. These hyphenated first names are very common in France, but seem to completely irritate US officials, and thus he ends up ‘Marc A. (last name)’ on many US generated documents. I always checked to see which document or passport he was using when buying a ticket for him.

    If.Ms. Malinte had any African connections, and going to Brussels, maybe with the Congo, then she risked real problems at the airport with tickets with such clearly non-comparable first names, and she was right to take up the offer, and to take more care next time.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Wow. Racist much? Have you ever left your small town to discover that not everyone across the globe is named Mary, John or Cindy?

    Seriously, MODS…where are you when an ACTUAL offensive comment is posted? I get banned for using the word “Taliban” in a discussion about the TSA, and this guy insults people who use names commensurate with their culture/ethnicity, and his insult is allowed to stand?

    THIS is why the comments section of this blog is a joke.

  • Tracy T.

    My mom used to be an elementary school principal, and years ago she had a student whose name was E=MC2. Her parents were both engineers. They called her something else, but that was the name on her birth certificate. *sigh*

  • EdB

    interesting that the two up votes are from “guest”. The software should really restrict up voting to registered users like it does with down voting. Not that the voting really matters.

  • EdB, I upvoted it (LeeAnne’s comment). And I’m signed in as I always am.

  • pauletteb

    You can have just a middle initial on your ticket.

  • EdB

    I meant on PsyGuy’s comment, not LeeAnne’s. Sorry I wasn’t clear on that.

  • TonyA_says

    Hyphens are not allowed for names on an airline reservation system. The rule is to replace the hyphen with a dot (.)

    So your son should be:

    -LASTNAME/MARC.ALAIN

    Try it next time.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I don’t like the names associated with up/down votes. Sometimes I want to support an unpopular opinion because it’s well written or because I also agree with a minority opinion. I don’t want to call attention to myself; sometimes that undermines my ability to make a persuasive (at least in my mind) argument on another topic on another day. I’m going to pick 2 people who were getting downvoted on a regular basis: emanon256 and Carver Clark Farrow. I’m pretty sure it was because they said something one day on one topic and now someone has taken a disliking to them. Of course, in emanon’s case, he had a Yankees logo attached to his name – and got lots of down votes – and then changed it to another picture – and the down votes have disappeared.

    I’m not attaching too much emotional significance to a down vote per se, but I am somewhat leery of the moderators looking at a post with a lot of down votes and then deciding to vote that person off the island, so to speak.

    All that being said, I do think that the original post from PsyGuy is fully deserving of every down vote it received.

  • TonyA_says

    Exactly, these kids’ names should have been entered this way.

    -Matinde/Ian.O
    -Matinde/Cody.O

    instead of:
    -Matinde/Ian.Okinyi.Ishmael
    -Matinde/Cody.Odhiambo

  • $16635417

    “WASPy” friend of mine had the exact same name as an IRA bomber who was serving time in prison. My friend could never use online check in and always had a hassle trying to check in at the airport. Staff was always courteous and he’s a very patient, friendly guy. He routinely scored upgrades and a few times for was asked if we wanted to be “involuntarily” bumped in order to receive the compensation and take the next flight while the airline sorted out the issue. He got the redress number and now has no more problems.

  • TonyA_says

    Emanon, can you do me a favor (since I do not buy online).
    After you buy a ticket with Expedia, can you change your TSA Secure Flight Passenger Data?
    There reason is for us TAs, we cannot change the passenger name in the PNR without ticket reissue HOWEVER we change SFPD’s name, date of birth and gender as many times as we want.
    Reason I asked is if the OP can call and change SFPD data (or do it online) then we would never know what was entered originally.
    We will definitely know the name on the e-ticket but not what the was sent on numerous occasions to the airline for TSA’s SFPD.

  • TonyA_says

    My partner in business has a similar problem. My brother in law, too.
    I think my nephew also has the same issue. I think this is so widespread since it is very easy to have a similar name. BTW, I do not think the date of birth is a big differentiator either.

    Problem is the redress # is only good for the USA. Their names can also be in another country’s list making it more difficult to travel.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Pretty big mistake the OP made with the names.
    Not like she misspelled “Edgar” on the reservation.
    How does this even happen?
    Hope the passports are correct.

  • TonyA_says

    I have a lady customer who gave me a wrong name. It was neither her married name or her previous name. She gave me her mother’s name :)
    Many people are just spaced out.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    I was wondering if she was even the mother to completely get their names so wrong.

  • emanon256

    That’s a good question, and unfortunately, I don’t know the answer. I haven’t booked a ticket on Expedia in a few years due to the problem I had with them. Though, all the problems I had were with hotels, not airfare. But I book only through the carriers or a real TA now. When I do book through a TA, I can still change my SFPD info on the airlines website, though not my name, just DOB and sex.

    I found this on Expedia:

    When do I submit my Secure Flight information?

    Please note: Failure to provide this information may result in the airline cancelling your ticket.

    If you have not already provided it, you will be asked to provide your
    full name (including middle name if it exists), date of birth, and
    gender information the next time you book a flight. If you have an Expedia account, please update it with any missing information now so your information will be associated with any future flights.

    If the name printed on my boarding pass is different than what appears on my government ID, will I still be able to fly?

    Due to differences in boarding pass systems, boarding passes may not
    always display the exact name you provided when booking your travel. The name you provide when booking your travel is used to perform the watch list matching before a boarding pass is ever issued, so small differences between the passenger’s ID and the passenger name printed on the boarding pass, such as the use of a middle initial instead of a
    full middle name or no middle name/initial at all, or hyphens and
    apostrophes should not cause a problem for the passenger.

  • TonyA_says

    One of the most important tricks I learned in this trade is this.
    If a passenger makes a mistake spelling their name, the easiest way to fix it is to apply for that airlines frequent flyer club and associate the PNR with the FQTV.
    Use the correct name on the FQTV account.
    If the GDS is rejected because the name is different, the pax can always log on online and do it from there.
    No desk or gate agent will complain about it since you will now be identified by your FQTV.
    I have done this for many clients (especially those with complicated names) and has worked 100% of the time so far.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    I gave him an “up” vote.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Are you saying that the children don’t need a passport to travel internationally?
    How could that be?
    How would anyone know that the children are not victims of human trafficking?

  • FQTVLR

    Seems to me that the mother booking the flights put in the wrong names. What was on the ticket and what she said it was supposed to be were two different things. It says she booked it on line and therefore she entered the names and she did it wrong. And then she complains that they will not change the names. She made the mistake and I think the fees she ended up with were reasonable. Maybe she should learn the names of her children.

  • TonyA_says

    They do (need passports).
    The first leg LAX-EWR is domestic interlined. So maybe the airline won’t be strict. But EWR-BRU will be a totally different story since 9W will have big fines to pay if they are caught screwing up.

  • TonyA_says

    In this case the agency needs to get on the phone with their 9W contact, explain everything, wait for an answer, and if positive; get a waiver code before doing the cancel/exchange/reissue etc.
    IMO, that takes a lot of time.

  • lvswhippets

    Because the tickets have to be booked in the same name as is on the passports. At least I have always been told to do that so I do.

  • Bill___A

    Understood, but they create a lot of their own problems.
    Passengers create a lot of their own problems too.
    Fortunately, I don’t have too many problems. I did make a mistake once – paid for it, moved on. In retrospect, I didn’t know about that 24 hour rule at the time and could have gotten away with not paying for it. Lesson learned – not to use the 24 hour rule, but to be more careful.
    I’ve also had situations where I’ve had to make changes and had to pay for them. They weren’t name changes but trip changes. It all worked out.
    I’m sorry these other people and airlines have so many problems, it has to be a pain.
    Thank you for the information. Reading columns like this makes me a more informed traveller. Also, still laughing about those 100 kids being kicked off AirTran. That should happen more often, would teach people to behave.

  • TonyA_says

    Maybe customers like Bill__A can ask the carrier, in this case 9W, to take full control of the (unflown) PNR and deal with 9W directly instead of Expedia or whoever the agency is. He can do his own requests, follow up. re-booking, etc. This way he will understand how difficult it is to deal with an airline instead of expecting Expedia to drop its change fees.

  • Joshua

    Chris: Given that the second paragraph says that “Each boy had each others’ middle names on their tickets,” yet the e-mail from Expedia says that the middle names on the tickets were completely different from the actual middle names (not switched around from one boy to the other), shouldn’t this have been clarified before posting it?

  • Alan Gore

    Decades ago, an airline ticket was printed on paper and had to be physically reissued for any correction. Calling an electronic change a “reissue” with today’s technology is nothing but a way of making the action sound more costly than it really is.

  • TonyA_says

    Bill, there are no winners in a name change problem.
    This is one of my most dreaded issues especially when discovered late in the game.
    My SOP is PROBLEM AVOIDANCE. So what I do is ask the customer to first look at the passport and then email me the names of the passengers etc.
    I never book anything without getting an email request.
    If the passenger’s name sound too foreign to me, I ask for a pic of the passport’s photo page first. With smartphones that can be done in a few seconds.
    Since I now have the passport information, I can do a reservation that is most likely correct. Then I forward the PNR to my client to check for any errors.
    Only after they check will I ask for a credit card payment (and that also is done via a pdf form so I do not make mistakes).
    I am an old (not so old) guy so I believe that haste makes waste.
    Strangely enough, the number of young clients have been growing for me.
    At first they were all OTA buyers. But after some bad experience, they end up buying from me. Luckily since airlines still give commissions for travel to Asia, we can compete easily with the OTAs. Now this is quite different for Europe since right now only the AA/BA/IB group supports Travel Agencies with decent commissions.
    Anyway I do not expect regular Elliott readers to make rookie mistakes since they learn a lot from others in this forum.
    I do want to make one point though. I hope people will find better solutions or share tips to avoid such problems instead of simply throwing stones at airlines and their agents.

  • TonyA_says

    Sorry Alan, you have a pretty distorted view on how this crazy airline ticketing world works. The computer may have changed the forms but that is not the issue. Getting an approval to make a change is a very bureaucratic process. That is the one that costs a lot of money since it takes too much time to do it.

  • emanon256

    I really did LOL reading that. The down voting did mostly stop after I removed the Yankees logo :) I think I still get one occasionally on non-issue taking posts from some Red Sox fan who holds a grudge. And I also still get them depending on my take on the subject that day. But those I udnerstand.

    I’m not so sure I like the names showing either.

  • emanon256

    OMG I am cracking up!

  • emanon256

    Or Von Trapp whistle designations.

  • bodega3

    Alan, Tony has stated what I would tell you. What you think should be isn’t.

  • flutiefan

    today i had to fix a guy’s ticket because he’d switched his names (booked himself online, of course). really, how hard is “FIRST NAME” and “LAST NAME”?
    but of course i didn’t charge him. that’s silly.

  • flutiefan

    not only that, but if you’re flying internationally, and your passport has the middle name, you’re supposed to entire the entire thing. it is supposed to match your document exactly.

  • bodega3

    As silly as it seems, we write our names with first name first and last name last, so people don’t read what is in front of them. Heck, how often do you push when it says pull on the door? I know I do! I am glad you gave this guy a break!

  • flutiefan

    my airline employee co-worker also has the issue, though her name is insanely common and WASP-y, and she had been through the 10 year federal background check to get hired.

  • emanon256

    Reminds me of back when I worked at the university. I was working with a student who took out a student loan. He put his nick name on the promissory note. We couldn’t match it, and he didn’t get the loan. I finally figured it out and made him charge it. He did, but at the same time went to the DOE and officially changed his name on his FAFSA to his nick name, so again, I still couldn’t match. And this wasn’t like Johnathan v. John. This was like Johnathon v. TDog.

  • Bill___A

    Sorry I thought the $100 was the airline fee.

    I do believe travel agents should be compensated for what they do.
    It sounds like you do run an agency which is probably busy because people flock to ones that know what they are doing.
    A good travel agent is hard to find.
    A friend of mine had to talk to Expedia and the “agent” he was talking to did not even know what the Star Alliance was.
    There is a competent agent which I can use to deal with here if need be. She’s knowledgeable and nice. Unfortunately I just recalled that the last time I had to get her to change something, which was due to no fault of hers or mine, or the airlines, she cost me about an extra $300. I didn’t quibble about it because I knew she didn’t do it on purpose.
    I’m glad you do things right, we need more of you. I really didn’t think the issue of the $100 was about the travel agents, I was thinking about the airlines fees.
    In any case, it is best to avoid these situations altogether, you are correct.

  • flutiefan

    a soda also doesn’t cost a movie theater $6 to make and provide, but they still charge it. i’d venture it’s over 1000% markup. businesses don’t charge “real” costs in most cases. why is this different?

  • flutiefan

    every time i have to “correct” a name, i am issued a new ticket set and i have an accountable document i must turn into our auditors at the end of the shift. you’re darn right it’s a reissue!

  • flutiefan

    i’ve been instructed that even the middle names must match if they are included on the passport (not everyone has a middle name on theirs)??

  • flutiefan

    Tony is right, you’re not factoring in the “people cost”. also, it’s clear you do not know how airline reservation and ticketing systems work. it certainly is a rebooking and a reissue. just different keystrokes than cancelling a ticket.

  • Grant

    Got another for ya, Em. I was watching “Judge Joe Brown” a few months ago, and one of the defense witnesses was a young girl (about 16) named “Latrina”. You could see the Judge was just stunned when she spit that one out. Poor kid.

  • TonyA_says

    I do not know where the $100 went here. But this I can tell you. I looked up the 9W fare rules and it stated $250 change fee per ticket.
    So either 9W gave a $150 waiver and made it $100 a ticket or gave a complete waiver and Expedia charged $100 as a service fee.

    In cases like this I waive my own change fee (on top of what the airlines charge) since I will still make a commission on the ticket or my original service fee still stands.
    Most travel agents have a heart and can understand what the OP is going through. But the airlines are SO BIG and do not give authority to their rank and file to make charitable decisions. So there is where you are going to see some nasty issues like this. But I cannot blame the airlines because many passengers really want to cheat the airlines. So how can the airlines distinguish between the OP and a cheater? Only by empowering their rank and file and accepting some leakage.

  • flutiefan

    wrong wrong wrong. if i have to make a name change correction, a new ticket set is issued and i have accountable documents printed out that i must submit to the auditors at the end on my shift.

  • TonyA_says

    When I was in MEM in the 80’s we had a 727 pilot named Captain Dick Stillhard.

  • flutiefan

    i want to know the answer to that, too. Chris keeps saying that it’s not the point. but really, those are completely different names. how does that happen with your own children? something doesn’t smell right…

  • Grant

    Those poor kids. Can you imagine having to learn to spell names like that in the first grade? And here I felt sorry for my classmate Stephen Jedrzewski. :-o

  • flutiefan

    what do they do with married women? in most cases, their current name won’t match their birth certificate…

  • TonyA_says

    I have a theory.

    I think the family immigrated from Kenya or Tanzania to Los Angeles.

    Before oath taking, the immigration officer offers immigrants with names that are difficult to pronounce a chance to Americanize their names.

    So maybe the mother took the suggested names of Cody and Ian and these were entered as their first names for the court (where oath taking usually happens).

    Then when required to key in the full name of her kids in Expedia, she forgot or got confused :) She mixed up their American and African names incorrectly.

  • bodega3

    It has always been labor intensive. Tony, were you around before computers and we had to hand write tickets? Make a mistake and you hade to void it and start all over again. One gentleman I use to work with, use to work at LGA and told me a story about the time he had to hand write a conjunctive ticket, using 3 4 segment coupons for an international trip that a passenger, who was standing in line to get. Everything is done, the tickets are turned over to the passenger who noticed that his name was written with Mr. and he was a Rev and required everything to be redone. You couldn’t scratch our Mr and write in Rev, so back to the beginning. It was a PITA then and it still is now!

  • TonyA_says

    They check where you were born and where you got married.
    I have heard horror stories from Asian Travel Agents that I work with.
    I have been in tours (helping out Asian TCs) where some of their passengers were denied visas in Japan and the USA because of this.
    The only crime the passenger committed is dropping a lousy second name that their mother gave them because they hated how it sounds.
    Many Asians adopt western names but do not remember to write down in their visa applications all their legal names used in the past.

  • bodega3

    This is where people need to have the current ID that is going to be used at checkin in front of them BEFORE purchasing an airline ticket. So many don’t know the name on their own ID’s so they can’t remember their family members names.

  • flutiefan

    i voted prematurely… wish i could change it!

  • flutiefan

    sounds like about 90% of my passengers at the airport ;)

  • TonyA_says

    Yes I remember but as a frequent traveler and not as a TA at that time.
    I am just turning 60 next year so I am still very young :)

  • $16635417

    Had ANOTHER friend in college who’s first name sounded more like a last name and last name more like a first. He always took care to fill everything out correctly, yet it was not uncommon for others to switch around his name in the process. So clerks somewhere would see “Taylor John” and “correct” it to “John Taylor”. For the longest time his financial aid package was not being applied to his account. The school almost forfeited his financial package as they thought he didn’t come to school. Wasn’t his mistake, they traced it back to the financial aid office staffer who “assumed” that my friend mixed up the names on the application.

  • TonyA_says

    Talking to most airlines, that is their LEGAL position because the gov’t wants that to happen. But the fact is we cannot fit everyone’s full name on the boarding pass and some systems cannot ticket names more than 29 or 33 chars long. So many international airlines will take -surname/firstname.middle initials separated with dots.

    I have had etickets failed to be issued with China Airlines, EVA Air and Emirates due to very long name issues. I understand United had a 33 char max before they moved to CO’s system. I do not know if Alitalia still has a max 35 char on surname and 20 chars on given names. Also AA has or had a max of 29 chars on surname.

    The last thing I want as a TA is make a reservation and price it to perfection only for an eticket to reject when payment is collected due to names that are too long. So I built a chart of all the airlines I ticket with their maximum name sizes. When those carriers are involved, I start truncating the middle names to initials.

    Remember that SSR DOCS entries for TSA SFPD allow for longer names. So I never truncate SSD DOCS and key in the full names as they appear on the passport.

    I have never had any carrier reject my paxs due to middle name initials. In fact the desk and gate agents love to see shorter names, me too :)

  • Raven_Altosk

    My issue with the names are they don’t match the story. The OP states she transposed the middle names of her children, but the names aren’t even close.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Don’t forget “Prince” who changed his name to a symbol.

    1990s, you were a wacky time…

  • Lindabator

    Sorry, Alan, but you have NO IDEA what goes on behind the scenes. Just because YOU make a few keystrokes online to change it, does not mean that is the end of it. Hence the big problem with making everyone their own travel agents – they don’t understand the rules, so don’t see the big deal when they screw up.

  • TonyA_says

    Yes! Confusing indeed. The OP should have risked leaving off their middle names. IMO no one will care what they are. The check in agent will look at your passport pic and face. If they look alike and the surname and first name of the RES matches that of the passport, then I cannot imagine why they will give you a hard time if your middle name is not in the RES.

  • bodega3

    Yes, Linda, the internet has made online shoppers experts in how things should be done yet they don’t even know what they are doing or how things works.

  • bodega3

    That is a good one. My mom worked at our local hospital and was responsible for typing of the information for birth certificates. Our area was popular with people who left SF during the Haight Ashbury days and so many evenings mom would entertain us with the names she typed up that day. Sadly I can’t remember most of them, but one that I have remembered is Oh Heavenly Glory. Not sure if that was the baby’s first, middle or last name, or the just the first. I am sure that kid didn’t get teased because there were many, many others running around our area with similar ‘different’ names. Interesting times!

  • y_p_w

    Your example is for goods and services. The airline example is more of a “gotcha” fee like the ones Spirit charges.

    I take Amtrak a lot these days. If I need to correct a name on a ticket they’ll do it for free. Traditionally mistakes in names have been corrected for free or a very small nominal fee for all sorts of transportation.

    Heck – recently I spent over an hour on the phone trying to sort out why I couldn’t check in online for a flight we were going to take. Should I have been charged a large markup on the cost to pay the agent for the time?

  • Michael__K

    You need human intervention but why does it need to be ten times more expensive than the ~$25 that some carriers charge to book by phone?

  • Alan M.

    We all make mistakes. They should be corrected without advantage being taken. This mistake is entirely understandable and you’re not really helping with your snide comments. I would prefer to pay $200 to change my ticket when I need to (instead of $150 today), but have small administrative changes that don’t affect anything be taken care of for free as they should be. It’s petty in the extreme and demonstrates abusive customer service.

  • TonyA_says

    My theory is wrong. I did a little googling. They are a sweet and loving family of four from Redlands. Heather is a Caucasian American and husband is from Nairobi, Kenya. Ochieng is the husband’s middle name. Cody is a white kid and Ian is a mixed race kid. There has to be some very weird name mixup here. This family has traveled before and the parents are professionals and highly educated people. This does not look like it is a simple operator mistake. It is possible that the older kid had to change his name to his mom’s married name and that caused the issues. I say give them a break and sorry for all the crazy speculation we did here. Have a nice trip this coming Sept.

  • TonyA_says

    Because $25 is a booking fee of an OTA using Philippine or Indian call center. These people simply use the same interface you use to book.

    The $250 is the airline penalty. It does not go to the OTA or agency,
    Apples vs Oranges. The OTA will charge another service fee to process a change on top of the airline’s change penalty fee. I don’t know that amount.

  • TonyA_says

    Apples vs Oranges.
    The $250 I mentioned is the AIRLINE’s change penalty fee.
    The $25 I mentioned is Expedia’s telephone booking fee.
    An agency may or will also charge you a service fee for CHANGES and I do not know that fee is for Expedia or other OTAs.

  • EdB

    Yeah. Not everyone has a middle name.

  • EdB

    I have purchased tickets online for my son. I have him on the phone and tell him to take out his ID and read to me *EXACTLY* what is on it. I know his name. I gave it to him! But that doesn’t mean he might not used a nick name on the ID.

  • Michael__K

    The $25 I mentioned is Delta’s telephone booking fee and United’s telephone booking fee and American Airline’s telephone booking fee (last I checked).

    You claim it costs them ten times more to change a middle name (and verify it’s not abuse) than to book an entire itinerary from scratch?

  • TonyA_says

    Re:You claim it costs them ten times more to change a middle name (and
    verify it’s not abuse) than to book an entire itinerary from scratch?
    Ha? What? Me?
    I dunno what it costs THEM. But I can tell you it will COST ME the agent $250 to change their ticket because the airline will charge me that amount per ticket. In addition to that I the TA will have to do all the requests and follow up. So my time is money and I will charge the customer for that.

    Most businesses do not have to justify their prices to you.
    You know the change penalty fee BEFORE you bought the ticket,
    In this particular case I showed a pic of it.
    Again no one is forcing anyone to buy a ticket.
    Buy when you agree with the terms, then that’s it.

  • Michael__K

    My response was directed at the question YOU posed and the assertion you made in your post:

    How can it be done without expensive human intervention?
    … This is a none starter for all airlines based on what I know.

  • TonyA_says

    Oh it is the ABUSE issue that will make it a non starter.

    I think you can design a process that can lower the cost. Problem is airlines believe the process will be abused so they are not going to be interested in changing what is there now.

    Looked what happened at WN. Used to be you can use your banked SW money for someone else. So essentially you SW funds were transferable. They changed it since it was being abused. People were selling it in ebay and craigslist.. Travel agents were buying and selling SW credits.

    http://www.consumertraveler.com/today/one-of-southwests-best-semi-known-frills-about-to-disappear/

  • bodega3

    Exactly! Some states have allowed nicknames on DL’s.

  • Michael__K

    I think you can design a process that eliminates 99.9% of any abuse and fixes most of these name errors for a reasonable cost.

    For example, fixing a middle name and making no changes to the DOB is clearly not abuse.

  • TonyA_says

    Or do what WN does now. Or adopt a travel bank system like jetblue.
    Every traveler has an account and refunds go to that account only.
    This will reduce fraud dramatically.
    Problem is what happens for carriers you use sparingly?

  • TonyA_says

    I have done name corrections on Delta. Read this
    https://www.worldagentdirect.com/deltaair/resource/content.do?resourceContentCode=NME_CORR
    United:
    http://www.united.com/web/en-us/content/contact/mileageplus/namechange.aspx
    AA:
    http://www.aa.com/i18n/agency/Booking_Ticketing/Ticketing/Name_Change_Restrictions.jsp&locale=es_ES
    The problem with this case is the correction is pretty big.
    And it is with Jet Airways. What is their policy?
    9W:
    https://www.9wagents.com/GDSBookingPolicy.aspx
    It does not say agents change a name in the PNR.

  • MarkKelling

    The pilots on my last flight were Capt. Morgan and 1st officer Jack Daniels. No, really, I checked while getting off the plane. That’s what their official picture badges said. There were several chuckles when the captain made his announcement right after take off.

  • fshaff

    Maybe I’m missing something in the story. I also haven’t read the numerous posts here, so this may be a repeat of someone else’s thoughts. How can the mother make such a big mistake in inputting her kids names. They are not even close to what “they should have been”. See the following per Expedia: Cody Joseph Matinde and Ian Ochieng Matinde. The names should have read as Cody Odhiambo Matinde and Ian Okinyi Ishmael Matinde. The airline(s) should NOT charge to make a name change that was obviously misspelled and/or left out.

  • TonyA_says

    Hey Mark, do you work for an airline or a travel company?
    You look like you are always flying somewhere.

  • Helio

    It isn’t true. I always fly overseas with only my first name and surname in the ticket (and I have a middle name), and I never had any problem.

    And my passpart has my complete name.

  • Kevin Mathews

    Ok Tony,

    I’m going assume that what you said is true, mainly because I’m too lazy to go and look it up.
    Cody Joseph Matinde –> Cody Odhiambo Matinde
    Ian Ochieng Matinde –> Ian Okinyi Ishmael Matinde

    So, based on that I can understand switching Ochieng and Odhiambo.

    BUT, how exactly does one switch up Joseph and Okinyi Ishmael?

  • TonyA_says

    Simple. Cody and his mom, Heather, are white (Caucasian).
    The mother, Heather, married a (black) person (Teddy) from Nairobi, Kenya.
    Together they have a son named Ian.
    The fathers middle name is Ochieng.

    OK so Cody’s former name was not Matinde and his former middle name could have been Joseph. After Heather married Teddy, she may have gone to court to change her son’s name to Cody Odhaimbo Matinde. Hence the mix up.

    As for Ian, it is possible she entered Teddy’s middle name instead.

    The airlines only intent is to make sure tickets are not transferred.
    Each airline has its name correction policy.
    I am convinced that Heather was not trying to fool anyone.
    The name correction policy was intended to help people just like Heather.
    The problem is without further googling or research, on the surface her case looked very weird; so it is easy for us to doubt it.
    Why the mistake?

    Maybe entering four passenger names is hard using a smartphone or tablet in expedia’s site. Who knows?

  • TonyA_says

    Think about it. Even if you have a middle name, there is no reason why it has to be used to identify you when your picture is pasted on the passport. Sorry but Americans are getting dumb and dumber :)

  • MarkKelling

    Nope. Not a travel company or an airline.

    I fly at least once a week, sometimes more, and in the past 4 years have started doing international flights about once every couple months. About half is for work, the other half is because I just like to travel, finally am at a point where I can afford it, and I have family scattered all over.

    I fly so much now that the pilots even recognize me and say hello on my more frequent flights. :-)

  • DChamp

    Wait a minute. A misspelling is a letter or so. This is way beyond a misspelling if you look at what she typed in (and her own children?).
    How was it so far off from the real names?
    Something doesn’t sound right here to me.

  • DavidYoung2

    No, everybody needs a passport book when traveling by air internationally. Just use the Passport Card as a ‘secure ID’ for traveling domestically and, really, as her only ‘real’ source of ID.

  • Cat

    Seems a little odd to me. The names did not simply switch the middle names. They are completely different or very misspelled.

    Cody Joseph Matinde = Cody Odhiambo Matinde

    Ian Ochieng Matinde = Ian Okinyi Ishmael Matinde

  • Eroshermes

    Can someone help me here out please…Jet Airways (9W) is an Indian airline that flies to many destinations from its hub in Mumbai, So how did OP manage to get her sons’ ticket on 9W to travel from LAX to Brussels? Via Mumbai after the stop in Newark? That seems like a long-way-round…not to mention that LAX is NOT one of Jet Airways’ destination in the US. Or did the OP buy a complicated codeshared and interlined ticket and didn’t turn to the right party as there are more than one airline in play for the ticket, and perhaps 9W wasn’t even actually flying any of the segments? If that’s the case, how does one go about fixing things like this?

  • TonyA_says

    9W flies EWR-BRU-BOM. 9W offers LAX-BRU fares with interlined LAX-EWR service. Very simple explanation. To fix name corrections, agency must contact 9W agency support so they can reissue ticket with no or less penalties. And yes, there is an agreement between India and Belgium giving each other full fifth freedom air rights since 2005.

  • Joshua

    These may be very sweet and loving people, but it is still the mother’s responsibility to know her own children’s names.

    Besides, there was no problem on the tickets with the children’s surnames. The only problem was with their middle names.

    And I’m afraid this is one of those posts where the story got garbled among the customer and Chris, because it says that the boys’ middle names were switched with each other’s middle name, yet the middle names on the tickets did not match either boy’s middle name.

  • TonyA_says

    I need to make one point very clear. Middle names are not required for OPERATIONAL reasons. An airline should be able to identify, check in, and board a passenger with only his Surname and First Name (even if they were slightly misspelled). Since the passenger must show a photo-id then the agent can check the name on the if vis-a-vis the name on the ticket. If they are more-or-less the same, then there is no reason to deny passage. Middle names are superfluous information and are often truncated in the boarding pass anyway.

    The only reason middle name started creeping on the scene was because airline needed to do passenger name vetting against a no-fly list (for international flights). Presumably using a middle name would distinguish a passenger better since there would, theoretically, be more characters to match.

    Since the TSA made the airlines enter the SFPD (Secure Flight Passenger Data) separately in a SSR DOCS message, the passenger name on the PNR does not have to exactly match the passenger name on the SSR DOCS message. They only have to be associated.

    The problem is ALL online ticket sale sites ask your name once.
    Then they massage what you enter to create the PNR name field and the SSR DOCS message. A real live person travel agent does not have to do that. They have to enter the PNR name and SSR DOCS separately. So a TA can shorten your PNR Name and then put your complete passport name on the SSR DOCS message.

    Therefore, from the airline’s (sole) perspective your middle name is irrelevant. It is only relevant for passenger name screening of the TSA/DHS so that if your name is quite common, they can find a way to exclude you from being questioned or denied boarding.

    IMO, a wrong middle name should never be a reason to invalidate a passenger ticket. That is why it is usually better not to put it in :)

  • JetBlueBlows

    Very simply, “Stupid Tax”

  • Alan M.

    There are lots of places in the world where you’re only given one name. We should all just call ourselves Wayan and have done with it.

  • Bill___A

    With reference to the “use a real travel agent” remark, they are as error prone or more error prone that other methods. I just went on a trip to a conference where, unfortunately, the hotel reservation was made through the conference’s travel agent. Although I put the information in correctly, they made a change, which they didn’t tell me about. Furthermore, since it was made in conjunction with a conference, the hotel’s website didn’t tell me as much as it should have about the reservation. When I got to the hotel, the check in “ambassador” as the hotel calls them was particularly daft and unable to find the reservation. I guess the ones who fail the IQ test for the TSA go and work at this hotel.
    I’m glad this got resolved. However, the airlines should know the difference between fixing an incorrect name and transferring the ticket to another person. The latter is what they wish to prevent, and unfortunately, they seem to treat both things the same.