The Travel Troubleshooter: Help! I’ve got two airline tickets in the same name

By | June 3rd, 2011

Question: Please help a mom who is an inexperienced traveler. I recently booked three tickets to fly from Chicago to Panama City, Fla., for my two sons and me, through, an online travel agency. Somehow, my name has been listed twice instead of my 16-year-old son’s name.

At first I thought it was because he was a minor. But then I called and they said this was not the case and that my youngest son could not travel on a ticket that had my name on it.

I have called the airline, Delta Air Lines, and the online agency to try to resolve this, without any success. Delta says Federal Aviation Administration regulations prevents them from changing the name but they say should be able to do it. says Delta is refusing to change the name. Any suggestions or advice would be welcome and appreciated. — Beth Anderson, Tinley Park, Ill.

Answer: You would think that an online agency would have safeguards to prevent someone from booking two tickets on the same flight under the same name. Or at the very least, the agency or airline would see this obvious mistake, and fix it without citing a nonexistent law.

There’s no FAA rule that I’m aware of that prevents an airline from changing the name on a ticket. In fact, some airlines will change the name on a ticket (for a fee) and if there were a federal law, they’d all be locked up by now.

Why do airlines, and for that matter online agencies, balk at changing the name on your ticket? It’s probably money. They’d rather charge you for a new ticket, even if you made an honest mistake.

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If you’re an inexperienced traveler, maybe you would have been more comfortable booking your flights through a travel agent instead of online. It’s true, tickets bought through an agency are subject to a booking fee, and it’s also true that many traditional agents won’t bother with a simple airline ticket booking (too much hassle and not enough money) but a competent travel adviser who sees this as the beginning of a long-term relationship would be happy to help.

You inadvertently booked two tickets under the same name, which was your mistake. I think your online agency and airline should have been more understanding. As it turns out, you tried to resolve this by calling both companies. While that may seem like the quickest way to resolve the matter, it isn’t. Calls aren’t always logged accurately, and without a case number, you’ll end up explaining yourself to a representative over and over.

Next time, put your grievance in writing. I suggested that you send a brief, polite email to Delta, asking it to help. You contacted the airline, and it changed the name on your ticket at no charge.

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