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What to Do About a Minor Name/ID Mistake on Airline Ticket

March 22, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick,Delta,DOT,Passengers,Travel Tips

KEY WORDS

One of my employees recently made a small mistake when making a reservation on Delta for a flight for her husband. I’ll let her tell you about the experience:

I should know better; I’ve only been making plane reservations for the family for 20 years now, but last week, I made a mistake.

Okay, a minor one, but these days, one does get a little paranoid, you know? I know fees to change a ticket can cost as much as $150, and I also know a total name change on a ticket is a no-no.

My mistake: I included my spouse’s middle initial on his ticket as part of the “full passenger name”; days later, I idly asked husband, “You use your middle initial on your driver’s license, right?” Wrong. Uh-oh. Then I checked his passport – no good, as it had his full middle name spelled out.

I called Delta on a Sunday evening and got a pleasant but vague young man who said he “doubted” I’d run into trouble. But “doubted” isn’t the same as “absolutely not” – and as I said, I’m naturally paranoid. 

Keep reading – eventually she calls the TSA…

So I called Delta again, Monday morning, thinking I’d get a “regular” – a Delta agent who’s been around the block a time or two, and indeed, I got a much more confident response: although this second agent couldn’t change the ticket itself, she did change Delta’s internal information that passengers fill out when making reservations, to reflect “no middle initial” for my spouse. Cool.

Then, just to be on the safe side, I called the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the number listed on the website, 866-289-9673; I expected to be put on hold forever and was surprised and delighted when a courteous woman picked up on the very first ring.

By the way, I’m not completely dumb: I knew the TSA blog had this to say about my dilemma:

“The use of a middle initial instead of a full middle name or no middle name/initial at all…should not cause a problem for the passenger. Over time, passengers should strive to obtain consistency between the name on their ID and the travel information they use for booking flights.”

But there it was again, the phrase “should not cause a problem” – if only it said, won’t cause a problem. So, I worried. And what did the agent on the phone tell me? Same thing. Should not cause a problem – although she added my husband might be asked to go through a secondary screening, though she did not think that likely (but if she’s wrong, I can only imagine how thrilled my spouse will be).

Okay, I’ve done what I can. His flight is in mid-April. Will let you know if any problems arise.

14 Responses to “What to Do About a Minor Name/ID Mistake on Airline Ticket”

  1. mcmurray says:

    That husband should man up and make his own reservations! and subsequent calls. I’m just saying……

  2. cindyb says:

    A similar thing happened to a friend of mine and she was traveling out of the country. Her friend had made the reservations and used a short version of her name on the ticket. What happened? Nothing! The ticketing agent said “is this what your friends call you?” She said “yes” and was on her way.

  3. Rick Seaney says:

    Cindy,

    Now I have to say, that surprises me. But glad it worked out for them.

    Regards,
    Rick

  4. Mickey says:

    Never had a problem and frequently do not put middle names. Traveling international has never been a problem.

  5. Grace says:

    I never book tickets with a middle name. The secure flight requirements were that you provide the airline with the secure flight data, but not that it has to be on your ticket.

    Phone agents are the worst. They like to put titles so my tickets book as Last/GraceMiss

  6. Rick Seaney says:

    Mickey,

    Glad this hasn’t been an issue for you. But I think everyone should start reconciling the names they use for the airline’s “passenger name” and the flyer’s government ID – why let yourself in for unnecessary difficulties?

    Regards,
    Rick

  7. Badtpapa says:

    Interesting read. My problem- my passport has the name from my birth certificate (four names). United says they can’t make their profile match!! They refuse to make the changes necessary to do this!
    JackK

  8. Rick Seaney says:

    Badtpapa,

    Have you considered changing the name on the passport to conform? Or how about trying that TSA phone number in the post, and see if they have any suggestions?

    Best,
    Rick

  9. Jim Richards says:

    I’ve flown many times and never had any problems until the last time I flew. The name on my frequent flier account/electronic ticket was a nickname whereas the driver’s license had my real name. Since the two names did not match the airline personnel balked at letting me fly. They finally did let me fly but wanted me to change the name on my frequent flier account to match my driver’s license.

  10. Rick Seaney says:

    Jim,

    This is something I would suggest everyone do the next time they make a reservation: pull out your wallet, get your driver’s license out, and put down the same name for your ticket as you see on your license. Yes, it’s a little thing, but it could snowball into a big problem.

    Thanks for writing,
    Rick

  11. Matt says:

    I recently had two similar experiences when an agent had to modify my Southwest tickets due to a system error when I was purchasing the tickets online.
    My ID lists my full name including full middle name: Firstname Middlename Lastname. Ticket #1 was issued Firstname Lastname; Ticket #2 was issued Firstname Minitial Lastname.

    I had absolutely no problem with either ticket. I had called Southwest before my flights thinking I would have an issue; the agent told me that as long as Southwest had the correct information on file / in my profile, all was OK. She also told me that the TSA Secure Flight was not 100% implemented, and the middle name on tickets (and especially boarding passes) was not yet a critical requirement — when discovered or reported, discrepancies would be corrected by the airline but would not cause any security/screening issues.

  12. Rick Seaney says:

    Matt,

    Thanks for the update.

    Regards,
    Rick

  13. Mark says:

    First and foremost…checking and rechecking is necessary to avoid such problems :> Preventive mode

    Second, when you have discovered it, then inform the airlines about necessary modification:> Corrective Mode

  14. Rick Seaney says:

    Mark,

    When you’re right, you’re right. And you are right.

    Regards,
    Rick

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