There are good reasons why a passenger may need to change a name on a plane ticket, including spelling mistakes and having bought a ticket before their name was changed, such as due to marriage or divorce.
So you might think that airlines allow and make it easy for passengers to change their name on a plane ticket.
But this isn’t always the case.
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Changing a Name on a Plane Ticket
While it can depend on the airline, generally only minor name changes and corrections are allowed – and you may or may not have to pay for changing your name on a plane ticket.
While airlines have different name change policies, generally, name correction policies include correcting your:
- First or middle name
- Last name
- Nickname to legal name
- Initial to full name
- Addition to the last name without changing the name
- First and last names if they are inverted on the ticket
- Suffix and prefix
If your name has changed, but your ID used for travel has not yet been updated to reflect this, it can be a hassle, but you should still be able to fly.
This is because the Department of Transportation have a policy in place to still allow you to fly if your name has changed recently, as long as you bring documentation of the change (e.g., a marriage certificate or court order).
How to Change a Name on a Plane Ticket
Generally, to change a name on a plane ticket, you will either have to directly contact the airline or travel agent you booked with.
While you may have success doing this online or through social media, the most reliable way is to call up the airline or travel agent and speak to an actual person to change the name on a ticket.
Depending on the airline’s cancellation policy, if you booked a ticket and noticed that you misspelled your name, it might be easier to cancel for free and rebook.
How Much it Costs to Change the Name
Most airlines will not charge you to change the name on a plane ticket, just as long as the correction is minor and was an honest mistake, or for a valid reason, such as a name change due to marriage.
The Name on the Ticket Must Match Your ID
According to TSA regulations, whatever name you use on your boarding pass must match your government-issued ID you use to fly.
There is Likely No Need to State Your Middle Name
If you don’t state your middle name when booking your ticket, it shouldn’t be a problem unless your name is particularly common.
Technically, you may be denied boarding if your “Secure Flight” passenger data doesn’t exactly match the name on your ID, but this is very rarely the case.
Note that when it comes to international flights, it’s better to be safer than sorry and include your middle name when booking a flight.
You Won’t Be Able to Transfer a Plane Ticket to Someone Else’s Name
It’s very rare for an airline to allow you to transfer a plane ticket to someone else.
While the airline industry will claim that this is due to security purposes, it really comes down to revenue control.
Airlines are concerned that people will buy cheap tickets and then resell them at a profit.
Some airlines will allow you to transfer a ticket if you pay a change fee and any difference in the fee, which isn’t really the same thing.
Depending on the reason why you need to transfer the name on a ticket, you may get a sympathetic call agent who understands the reason for the transfer, though this is still very unlikely.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).