What happens if the name on your passport doesn’t match your ticket? - Consumer Rescue (2023)

Can you fly off to an international destination if the name on your ticket does not match the name on your passport?

The answer to that question is “No.”

Ralph Lantz found this out in a devastating way. He booked his friend, Jackie, a ticket to meet him on a dream vacation to Greece. But his generous gesture went all wrong at the check-in counter. That’s where Jackie’s Mediterranean plans came to an abrupt end when a Virgin Atlantic agent pointed out that the name on her ticket was not the same as the one on her passport.

Now Ralph wants to know how he can get his money back for the flight.

This tale is an expensive lesson in the importance of self-booking vigilance. If you don’t involve a travel agent in your planning, the onus is on you to ensure that the name on your ticket matches your passport — precisely. Because if you don’t, you (or, in this case, your friend) won’t be going anywhere.

Table of contents

  • Denied boarding: “The name on your ticket does not match your passport.”
  • Airline policy regarding name changes on tickets
  • What is the 24-hour rule, and does it apply to your airline ticket?
  • What about middle names?
  • This passport mistake is an expensive one
  • What to do if the name on your ticket doesn’t match your passport
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Denied boarding: “The name on your ticket does not match your passport.”

“I feel I was ripped off for almost $1,000 by Virgin Atlantic,” Ralph lamented. “When Jackie tried to check-in, the airline refused to allow her to board. She is a 50-year-old woman who ended up crying her eyes out in the airport because she was not going to be able to make her dream vacation.”

Ralph says that he and his friend knew for some time that the name on her ticket did not match her passport. He said that he had called the airline and Orbitz to alert both companies of the passport problem. For this reason, he believed that the responsibility for his self-booking mistake had transferred to the airline and the OTA.

“I booked the ticket in the name I have always known her as — Jackie. But her passport is in the name of Jacqueline,” Ralph explained. “We found the problem almost a week before the flight and contacted Orbitz and Virgin Atlantic to fix the ticket. Virgin Atlantic refused to change the name because ofpolicy.”

Airline policy regarding name changes on tickets

Yes, the old pesky policy that all airlines share about changing names on tickets. For the most part, it can’t be done. Or I should say, itisn’tdone.

I’m sure that it could be quite easy to change the digital record on a ticket. But airlines don’t allow for it, citing security reasons. However, a cynical person might conclude that the reason is more financial than security-based. Charging for name changes is a revenue source for all airlines — some more than others.

Virgin Atlantic’s name correction policies, though, are some of the most passenger-friendly we know.

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If you’ve spotted a spelling mistake

If there’s a smallspelling mistakein your name on the ticket, we can also amend this for free.

Virgin Atlantic website

Butour advocacy teamhas seen complaints where airlines have charged hundreds and even thousands of dollars to correct names in which only a few characters are incorrect.

What is the 24-hour rule, and does it apply to your airline ticket?

It’s critical that travelers verify that the name on their ticket matches the name on their passport. This verification must be made within the first 24 hours after purchase. These 24 hours are when, for most airlines, you can cancel without penalty if you need to make corrections. Then you’re free to rebook in the correct name.

There are a few things to keep in mind about the Department of Transportation’s 24-hour cancellation rule:

  • The Department of Transportation’s 24-hour rulerequires all airlines that operate in the United States to allow passengers to cancel purchased tickets within 24 hours after purchaseorallow for a 24-hour hold, but not both. So travelers should be extra vigilant when using an airline that still allows for a 24-hour hold.
  • If you purchase tickets on a foreign airline for flights operating entirely outside of the United States, the 24-hour rule does not apply. Make sure to check the airline’s cancellation policybeforeyou buy the ticket.
  • Flights that are booked less than seven days before departure are also ineligible for a penalty-free cancellation.
  • If you purchase your ticket through a third-party booking agent, you might be out of luck. The DOT’s rule does not apply to these tickets (although some booking agents will follow this rule as a courtesy.)

Fact: If the name on your international ticket does not match your passport, you’re not flying

As Elgy Gillepsie found out when she tried to fly internationally without a passport, certain rules for international travel can’t be bent.

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  • No, you can’t fly internationally with just a library card.

Travelers must possess a valid passport in their legal name with at least 3-6 months before expiration (depending on destination). There are no exceptions to that rule.

  • This passport rule will ruin your vacation every time.

Ralph uncovered another unbendable rule during this travel fiasco:

FACT: If the first and last name on your international ticket does not match your passport exactly, you’re not flying.

What about middle names?

  • Note: In general, middle names on a passport do not need to be reflected on your airline ticket. In fact, many airlines do not have a field for passengers to add their middle name when making a reservation.
What happens if the name on your passport doesn’t match your ticket? - Consumer Rescue (1)

This passport mistake is an expensive one

Ralph believed that because he let Orbitz and Virgin Atlantic know of his mistake with his friend’s name a week before the flight, the airline should have allowed her to fly to Greece with the mismatched passport and ticket.

“We accepted our responsibility for making sure the name was correct on her ticket,” Ralph told me. “I made an effort well in advance of the flight to correct the error, but at every turn, the airline refused.”

But the airline told Orbitz and Ralph that it would not change his friend’s name on her ticket so that it would match her passport. At that point, there was only one way to have fixed the problem so that Jackie could travel to Greece. But it is an expensive fix:

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  • Cancel the ticket.
  • Pay the change fee.
  • Rebook at the current fare in the correct name.

Unfortunately, this resolution quickly adds thousands of dollars to a dream vacation.

Since the name on her ticket still did not match her passport, it’s unclear why Ralph’s friend believed she was on her way to Greece on the day of the flight.

Fact: No airline will allow a passenger to fly internationally when the name on their passport and the name on the ticket aren’t the same.

So self-bookers beware: There are no refunds owed when a passenger is refused boarding because of this mismatch.


What to do if the name on your ticket doesn’t match your passport

If you discover any spelling mistakes on your airline ticket after purchase or realize you’ve used a name that isn’t the same as what is reflected on your passport, you have several options:

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  1. Less than 24 hours since the purchase:
    If you’ve purchased directly with the airline, you’re likely protected by the 24-hour rule. Call and cancel the ticket. You can then rebook without penalty. Keep in mind if your flight is within seven days of the purchase, the 24-hour cancellation rule doesn’t apply. Also, if you’ve booked your ticket with a third-party agent, the cancellation rules of that company will apply. Some booking agents, such as Expedia, also have a 24-hour cancellation rule in their terms and conditions.
  2. More than 24 hours since the purchase:
    Don’t expect an inexpensive fix to your problem. But it never hurts to ask. If you follow the guidance in my article about getting great customer service you can escalate your request to someone who can help — and do it the right way!
  3. The expensive solution:
    If all else fails, the expensive fix to an incorrect name on a ticket is to pay the change fees and rebook at the current cost of the flight. It will be a costly lesson, but you won’t miss your dream vacation. (Michelle Couch-Friedman, Consumer Rescue)

*Before you go: Need a passport fast — like really fast? Here’s how to get a passport within days!


What happens if the name on your passport doesn’t match your ticket? - Consumer Rescue? ›

This is because airlines must verify your identity before allowing you to board the plane, and they do so by checking your passport and other travel documents. If the name on your passport doesn't match your ticket, it can cause confusion and delay and may even prevent you from traveling altogether.

What happens if my name doesn't match my airline ticket? ›

Heightened security on airlines will also make this more likely. If the name on your ticket and passport don't match, you need to get the ticket changed. Many airlines will change a small mistake for free, while other will charge a fee that depends on the size of the error.

Does my ticket need to match my passport? ›

Answer: As part of the TSA's Secure Flight Program, the names on airline tickets must match the name on passports. We recommend that you contact the airline you are traveling with to see if they can provide a solution for the name mismatch.

What happens if boarding pass doesn't match passport? ›

If your ticket information does not exactly match your passport, you may have difficulty traveling. Airlines and border control officers require that all of your information be verified before travel. If the information does not match, you may be denied boarding or entry.

Can you fly if your name is spelled wrong on your passport? ›

Any error on your passport MUST be corrected otherwise your passport may not be considered valid to use for travel. If the error is a minor error (minor spelling error for example), then you may be able to still use that passport for travel and update it once you return.

Does airline ticket have to match ID exactly? ›

Does your plane ticket have to match your ID exactly? You cannot travel under a different name. Under the TSA's rules, the name on your boarding pass must match your government-issued ID. However, if you're missing your middle name on your boarding pass, it shouldn't be an issue.

Can I use a ticket with a different name? ›

Are name changes allowed? Generally, only minor name changes or corrections are allowed, such as fixing a typo or updating the ticket to reflect a legal name change (e.g. last name change through marriage). Name changes to transfer flight tickets are generally not allowed for a few reasons.

Can you change passport on ticket? ›

Booking flights while renewing your passport

Some airlines might let you change your passport details online if you have an account with them, but that is not always the case. Remember that you will not be able to travel if the passport numbers on your reservation and your passbook do not match.

Can you change passport number after buying ticket? ›

1. Can I change my passport number after booking a flight? Yes, modifying your passport number after the booking is possible; however, the process can be complex and time-consuming.

How can I change the name on a flight ticket? ›

To change the name on a flight ticket you should always contact the airline or travel agent you booked with as soon as you realise the name change is needed. This is because many airlines will have a cut-off point for name changes (generally up to 24 hours before the flight).

What if my boarding pass has different name? ›

TSA policy on misspelled names

If it's a very minor misspelling, you'll be ok. If it's a completely different name, they won't let you proceed through the security checkpoint without correcting it with the airline first.

When can your passport be rejected? ›

Reasons for denying a passport include a valid, unsealed federal warrant of arrest, a federal or state criminal court order, a condition of parole or probation forbidding departure from the United States (or the jurisdiction of the court), or a request for extradition.

Does my middle name need to be on my plane ticket? ›

Middle names are not a requirement for travel, and therefore it does not need to be added to your reservation. For a flight departing or landing in the U.S. or an international station, middle names can be added to the secure flight information when completing your online check-in 24 hours before departure.

What happens if you accidentally put the wrong name on a plane ticket? ›

Call the Airline to See If You Can Change the Name

Many airlines have a 24-hour free cancellation window, which means you can make changes to your reservation easily. In my case, we got the ticket on miles, and rebooking would mean we'd risk losing the seat if it was no longer available.

What to do if there is spelling mistake in flight ticket? ›

Firstly, read out the ticket and find out the number of mistakes in that. If the mistake is less than three letters in name, contact the airline directly. Check the terms if your ticket is refundable or not? Making a call to your airline or the traveling agent would be the best option to get an appropriate solution.

How long does it take to correct a mistake on passport? ›

When you submit a DS-5504 to correct a passport printing error, your request for a correction to your passport is processed as an expedited service. This means your new, corrected passport should be delivered to you within approximately 2 months (or whatever the current wait is for expedited passport sevice).

How do airlines check ID? ›

The TSA officer may ask you to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity. If your identity is confirmed, you will be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint.

Do they scan your ID when you fly? ›

The officer will insert each photo ID into the CAT unit where the ID is scanned and analyzed. CAT is linked electronically to the Secure Flight database, which confirms travelers' flight details, ensuring they are ticketed for travel that day.

Can I change the name on my American Airlines ticket? ›

American Airlines offers flexibility for Minor and Major name corrections for wholly unused (001) validated tickets. Minor name corrections apply to itineraries that consist of American prime and American Eagle flights only and may be corrected in the same PNR.

How much does it cost to change your name on an airline ticket? ›

The cost of changing the name on your flight ticket will depend entirely on the airline. Some airlines allow one free correction per ticket. Others will charge a “correction fee” or a “change fee” that can range from $50 to $200.

Can you use Ticketmaster tickets with different name? ›

Yes — including the tickets you print at home that show your name. But you can also look for a Transfer Tickets button on your order in My Account to see if Ticket Transfer is available. Was this article helpful?

Is it okay if my names are squished together on my ticket? ›

If you see your names appearing squished together on your booking, this is OK! Many airlines have reservations systems that do not have a middle name field or fields for multiple last names, so once your ticket is issued, their automation system automatically pushes your names together.

Can I buy a plane ticket while my passport is being renewed? ›

You may book a flight before having your passport in hand. Please just make sure that you make your booking the same name/spelling as it will be on your passport.

Do I need to change my name on my passport to travel? ›

However, a completely different last name may cause problems. The U.S. Department of State Passport Services website states that "all citizens need to travel in their current, legal names." To avoid any problems, you should get the name changed before you travel.

What happens if you put wrong passport details? ›

If there's a mistake in your name, nationality, date of birth, or passport/ID details, the carrier might not allow you to board. You might also face difficulties getting through immigration.

Can I use my old passport while waiting for a new one? ›

If your passport's time is almost up, don't wait — start the renewal process now. You can't travel while your renewal application is being processed, and you need to make sure your travel documents are valid for at least six months past the dates of any planned international trips.

How do I check my ticket with passport number? ›

Go to the website of the airline you booked your flight with. Look for an option to retrieve your booking, such as "Manage Booking" or "View Booking". Enter your passport number in the required field. If the airline recognizes your passport number, your flight booking information should be displayed.

Can I fly if my last name has changed? ›

Citizens: United States Citizens who change their name due to marriage, divorce, or because of any other circumstance may travel using your United States passport or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative approved document in your prior name provided you bring proof of your name progression such as; a marriage ...

Can you change the name on a plane ticket online? ›

In simple terms, if you have a refundable ticket, then you can make the name change. On the other hand, if you have a nonrefundable ticket, then a name change won't be possible. So, before making any booking, it's better to know about the fare rules of the airline.

How can I change my name on a plane for free? ›

Name change is only possible if the fare conditions of your flight ticket and your airline permit it. With some air carriers, you can alter the name if you have not checked-in (online) yet. However, bear in mind that, if you need to make a name change, you always have to contact the booking website/airline.

Can I fly with a passport with my maiden name? ›

Can I travel with my maiden name on my passport? Yes, you can travel if your passport name matches your ticket. No need for it to match your Social Security or driver's license. For international travel with an outdated passport, consult the destination's embassy or consulate and carry your marriage certificate.

Can I change the name on a Delta ticket? ›

Delta does not allow you to change the full name on a ticket. In all cases, the person who travels on the flight needs to be the same person that the Delta ticket was originally booked for.

Can I change the passenger name on an airline ticket Southwest? ›

From the hamburger icon in the top left navigation, choose Look Up Reservations. Enter your confirmation number, first and last name, and click Retrieve reservation. Passengers who are eligible to modify their name will see an edit pencil next to their name.

What invalidates your passport? ›

There's chemical or ink spillage on any page. There are missing or detached pages. The chip or antenna shows through the end paper on the back cover for the new style e-passports. The chip has been identified as damaged after investigation.

How do you know if your passport is flagged? ›

There are signs that will indicate you have been flagged for additional screenings: You were not able to print a boarding pass from an airline ticketing kiosk or from the internet. You were denied or delayed boarding.

Do you get a refund if your passport is denied? ›

IMPORTANT NOTE: We consider refund requests on a case-by-case basis. We cannot refund passport execution fees, nor refund missed travel. We cannot refund passport application fees except in very limited circumstances outlined in 22 C.F.R. § 51.53(a).

Does TSA look at middle name on ticket? ›

However, while it's encouraged as a best practice, the TSA does not explicitly require a middle name on airline tickets. As CBP notes in the statement above, even if the name on your ticket isn't an exact match to your identification, TSA will attempt to verify your identity in other ways before you board.

Can you have middle name on passport but not on ticket jet 2? ›

Do you need my middle name(s) for my travel documents? No, we don't need your middle name(s) unless two people on the booking have identical first and last names. Please make sure all names are spelt exactly as they are on your passport.

Is middle name important on passport? ›

The passport is a federally issued identification document so be sure to use your full legal name. Middle names can be tricky when filling out your passport application, but don't let that be the one factor that holds you back. A middle initial is acceptable on your passport instead of providing the full middle name.

Does name on airline ticket have to match passport exactly? ›

Yes. The name submitted on your airline reservation must be an exact match to the name you provided on your application.

What happens if my plane ticket name doesn't match my ID? ›

Does your plane ticket have to match your ID exactly? You cannot travel under a different name. Under the TSA's rules, the name on your boarding pass must match your government-issued ID. However, if you're missing your middle name on your boarding pass, it shouldn't be an issue.

Can you fly with a misspelled passport? ›

Any error on your passport MUST be corrected otherwise your passport may not be considered valid to use for travel. If the error is a minor error (minor spelling error for example), then you may be able to still use that passport for travel and update it once you return.

Can you edit a plane ticket? ›

Yes, you can reschedule or cancel a flight. However, you may need to pay a change or cancellation fee depending on the airline you booked with and the fare class of your ticket.

What if my name is misspelled on my airline ticket Emirates? ›

Can I change passenger name on an Emirates ticket? You can correct the name on your ticket (subject to fees) if your name is misspelled on the ticket. This must be done before the first flight of your itinerary. If you have legally changed your name you may do this at any time throughout your journey.

What are the most common passport mistakes? ›

We've compiled the mistakes we see most often and put together six of our best tips to avoid some common passport errors.
  • Not Checking If You Need A Passport First. ...
  • Applying Too Close To Your Departure Date. ...
  • Missing Proper Documents for the Application. ...
  • Not Filling Out the Form Correctly. ...
  • Not Double Checking Everything.

How do I change my name on my US passport? ›

If you are changing your name within one year of the date your passport was issued, you will need to complete Form DS-5504: Name Change, Data Correction, and Limited Passport Book Replacement. If you are changing your name more than a year after your passport was issued, you must submit Form DS-82: Renewal Application.

How much does it cost to change your name on your passport? ›

Determine your passport name change fee

With form DS-82 and form DS-11, you will need to pay $130 (or $190 total for expedited service). If your previous passport was issued less than one year ago and you filled out form DS-5504, you do not need to pay a fee for routine service. Expedited service for DS-5504 costs $60.

Can I change my name on flight ticket? ›

You can change the name on most flight tickets but the airline will normally charge you an administration fee to do so. Some airlines will allow you to change the name on your reservation because of a spelling mistake but won't allow you to transfer your flight to somebody else.

Is it necessary to have your middle name on airline ticket? ›

Interestingly enough, your airline ticket, however, does not require a middle name. Passengers are able to clear security without including their middle name on their ticket because the Secure Flight passenger information matches their airline profile or the information on their ticket.

Does title matter on airline ticket? ›

Middle names and Titles are not required for travel, however if they are added to the ticket, they must be displayed in the correct order.

How much does it cost to change your name on American Airlines? ›

American Airlines Name Correction Fee

This type of amendment is free of cost for visitors. On the other hand, visitors will pay US$25 as the processing fee when they make major name corrections. For domestic and international passengers, the name correction fee is US$200 and US$700, respectively.

Can I omit middle name on passport? ›

Can I omit middle name on passport if it appears in my other documents? The answer is no. Your passport will match the details on your supporting documentation per the government standards. But you don't need to use your middle name in full and can use its initial instead.

Do flight tickets need both last names? ›

When booking a ticket, you always use your first given name and last name as it appears on your passport or identity card. It often happens that people use their nickname, even though it does not appear on their passport. If you have several (baptismal) names, you only need to use the first one on your ticket.

Does it matter if your boarding pass says Mrs instead of Miss? ›

It makes no difference whether it says Mrs, Miss or Ms anyway. There is not title on your passport.

What if my name is too long for plane ticket? ›

Contact the airline to see if it allows any exceptions to the number of characters in the name field. If a limit is indicated in the airline's system, ask for approval to shorten the name and review the airline's guidelines to avoid any future problems.

How much does it cost to change the name on a plane ticket? ›

The cost of changing the name on your flight ticket will depend entirely on the airline. Some airlines allow one free correction per ticket. Others will charge a “correction fee” or a “change fee” that can range from $50 to $200.

How long does it take for American Airlines to change your name? ›

The representative will send you an email with instructions on the information they need, which you can email back. In 7-10 business days, you'll receive confirmation of the change.

Why won t American Airlines let me change my flight? ›

You can't make changes to the itinerary once it has been held using the extended hold feature. If you've had a change in plans, you can cancel your existing hold and choose new flights. You would need to purchase the extended hold product again for your new itinerary (subject to availability).


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