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Travel Tips — How to Change Your Name on an Airline Ticket

Written by Chris Caggiano

Even the most seasoned travelers can get tripped up if they need to change a name on an airline ticket. Maybe you were so eager to snags some travel deals that you made a mistake entering your information. Or you’ve gone through the entire transaction, only to find that there’s a typo on your boarding pass.

Because of the understandably strict rules by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), passengers cannot travel under the wrong name. This includes names that are only misspelled or no longer valid. All airlines are required to enforce these rules because of security concerns.

But what happens if you need to change the name on your ticket or transfer it to another passenger? While this is not completely impossible, you will need to act quickly and within the confines of TSA rules to make it happen. The last thing that you want to happen is to show up for a flight only to be denied boarding because the name on the boarding pass does not match your personal identification.

Here is what you need to know about changing a name on a plane ticket.

When Changes Are Allowed

It is important to note that different airlines employ varying rules about what they will allow for name changes. The generally accepted parameters are that changes are allowed in the event of typos, legal name changes, last name changes because of marriage or divorce, or altering a nickname to a more formal name. You can also make changes to prefixes.

How to Make the Change

While some people do not encounter any difficulties making a change to a name on an airfare ticket, it is not always a walk in the park. The best way to make a name change is to call the airline directly. If you are lucky, all it will take is a quick phone call to an airline’s customer service department. You can prepare yourself for this call by checking out the airline’s FAQ page on their website prior to picking up the phone. Most airlines will have a dedicated section to answering this question so that you can prepare and have what you need on hand when you make the call.

How Much Will It Cost?

The monetary cost of changing a name on a flight ticket can vary considerably between airlines and based on the circumstances that necessitate the change. For instance, some airlines will give passengers one free mulligan per ticket, allowing you to change a name at no cost. Other airlines will charge a correction fee, ranging from as little as $50 to as much as $200. In some cases, it may be less expensive to cancel the flight and rebook it under the correct name. Be sure to run all of the math before making the final decision.

Correcting a Simple Typo

Simple typos are generally the easiest mistakes to correct. However you will want to contact the airline right away if you notice a typo. Do not make the mistake of thinking that the airline will simply overlook a typo on a boarding pass. Calling the airline directly is the best course of action in this situation. This is particularly true if it was a mistake on their end. An easily correctable typo will usually not incur any additional costs on your end.

Transferring a Ticket to a Friend

In most cases, you are not allowed to transfer a ticket to another passenger. There are some exceptions to these rules, particularly as it relates to tickets purchased under a group block. If the airline you are using will not allow you to change the name completely, you will need to cancel the original ticket and rebook it under the intended passenger’s name.

You might also enjoy: Is There Really a Best Day and Time to Buy Airline Tickets?

Changing a Ticket After a Marriage or Divorce

Changing a name due to a recent change in marital status is one of the least complicated name change situations to navigate. Some airlines will allow you to board with the old name on the ticket if you have the documentation that proves the official change. Examples of this type of documentation include divorce papers or a marriage license. As with all matters like this, it is always a good idea to call the airline prior to travel to verify their specific rules.

Have you ever had to change the name on an airline ticket? Tell us about it in the comments below. 

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Chris Caggiano

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