Name Changes on Airline Tickets

Oh no! It has happened to you. A thing you have dreaded since you heard it had happened to a friend of yours. You check your passport, you check your airline reservations; the name on the reservation and the name on the passport does. not. match. Panic starts to set in. Your friend described this process as being worse than going through airport security. Your mind is spinning trying to figure out the next steps; who to call, what information to give, and the most important: how much this is going to cost. Now, I know how nerve-wracking making name changes on airline tickets can be but I’m here to hopefully ease your mind and lead you down a road that doesn’t cause too much pain!

    I won’t sugar coat it: name corrections/changes are a pain in the ass. Even if you do everything correctly, things can happen. But it is important to take all the necessary steps to ensure you are never in this situation. Before you book your ticket, make sure your reservation and your travel document (ex: driver’s license, passport) match exactly! If you go through a travel agent, I would suggest giving them a copy of your travel document so that they can enter the information exactly how it appears. One of the mistakes I have seen a lot is a woman traveling for her honeymoon and either changing her passport to her married name and still having her maiden name on her reservation or vice versa. One more error I have seen is people using their shortened name on their reservations and their full name is on the passport (ex: Katie on the booking and Katherine on the passport). It is important to double or even triple-check this information before you click book.

If you do notice a name mistake on your booking, there is a small window where you can get it changed for free, and believe me, this is the easiest way! If you notice this error within 24 hours of making the booking, the ticket can be voided, canceled, and refunded and you can rebook again with the correct name. However, you would be paying for a ticket again doing it this way since the old ticket is being refunded. If you have the finances for this option, I suggest going this route. It might save you a headache down the road. I would just urge before voiding and canceling your original ticket to look at the fares. Even though you booked the same flights less than 24 hours ago, the price might have increased. In that case, a name correction/change might be your best route (if one can be done).

    Now, every airline has its own way of handling name corrections/changes. Trust me, it would be so much easier if they all had the same process, but what would be the fun in that? Depending on the airline, a name correction could be anywhere from one letter to inverted names (ex: name on the reservation is Sue Margaret and actual name is Margaret Sue). Name changes involve completely changing the name on the booking. Some airlines only allow for name corrections, not changes. Other airlines allow everything (mostly for domestic flights). Of course, there is a fee involved, usually between $25 to the cost of a new ticket! Yes, some airlines do not allow name corrections/changes no matter how big or small. Especially if there are codeshares involved, they don’t allow these because the reservation systems do not sync well together and will more than likely cause issues during travel. Some airlines require a copy of the passport to verify the name that is being changed is the one that matches the passport. 

    Okay! You are ready to proceed with a name correction/change. Let’s just say for this example, it has been more than 24 hours since you booked the ticket. First, I would recommend looking at the airline’s website to see if they have any information in regards to their name correction policy. If they do, make sure to look for key details such as the name correction fee and what can and can not be changed. You can also call their reservation line for this information, but it’s best to get all this information so you can try to just contact the airline once as they usually have very long hold times. Yes, you will more than likely have to contact the airline to actually make the name correction as there are many steps that need to happen on their side of things to make the change. For this example, they can make the change. Once the changes are made, your ticket will be reissued to show the correct name on the booking and ticket. Then, you are good to go!

I know this is a lot to take in at once, but I hope this information has given you some insight into how much name changes on airline tickets can be a hassle and what it could mean to your upcoming travels. I want to point out that I could probably go on for another three to four pages on different ways that different airlines do their name corrections, but what is above is a good overview of what I have experienced. Next time you go to book a flight, I bet you take the time to really look over the name section.

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