When you buy a plane ticket online, it is very important to be careful and spell your name correctly. If you make even the slightest unintentional mistake, it will cost you.
We always urge you to buy your plane tickets on your own, it’s really easy. Either by following the links on our cheap flight deals page or by using our flight search tools to find the best prices.
That being said, just like any purchase made online, you have to pay attention to what is on your screen and, in the case of plane tickets, you have to make sure your name is written correctly. It has to be exactly like it is on your travel document and it’s important, because you can not change it if you make a mistake. Not even for a single misplaced letter.
It seems pretty obvious to me and maybe I take how easy it should be for everyone for granted, since I’m a bit biased. I bought my first plane ticket online alone when I was 14 (so you should be able to do it without a travel agent too ?) and I’ve bought over 200 since, so it really is easy for me.
But in case you don’t buy as many tickets, here is the first in a new series of many articles to teach you about some of the basics that are often overlooked, so you can become an experienced traveler. You’ll see, it is very easy to learn.
So let’s start with why you absolutely need to spell your name correctly.
Plane Tickets Cannot Be Modified In Any Way
There are often “news” articles about passengers who are unlucky enough (and a bit clumsy too) to have misspelled their name on their plane tickets, like this one. To make sure that you don’t end up being that person, I wanted to share this article to make sure you understand that it is very important!
Way too often, people use the “auto-fill” option on their web browser when ordering stuff online, which is usually fine… but not when buying plane ticket. If it fills out those fields for you, it might fill it in with your name written in a way that is slightly different from how it is written on your passport or official ID. By the way, buying a plane ticket is much easier to do on a computer than on a mobile device, so for something as important as a plane ticket, we always recommend buying on an actual computer.
The result: your name is misspelled on your plane ticket and it becomes completely unusable and useless… so you’ll have to spend hundreds of dollars to change it.
Just to be clear: no you cannot just call the airline and fix it, forget it. So it is important to be aware: plane tickets cannot be modified and you’ll have to pay up if you make a mistake. Even if it is only a typo, even if it is only one letter that needs to be changed. Doesn’t matter. If your ticket has the wrong name on it, you can’t change it for free.
So before pressing “Enter” and buying it’s actually really simple: double-check and make sure every passenger’s name is written exactly as it is on their passport. That’s it. And you’ll be fine. Pretty simple!
Also, make sure you don’t post a picture of your ticket or boarding pass online.
Why Plane Tickets Cannot Be Modified
The first reason airlines mention is security. Authorities want to know exactly who will be on-board, and they need your name to match your passport for that.
The second reason is the cost. If airlines always had to waste their time modifying tickets to fix mistakes that aren’t really their problem in the first place, with 2 million air passengers flying every single day in the US alone… you can imagine how that could add up to a lot of avoidable costs.
So it reduces administrative costs and allows them to charge nice fees to those who aren’t careful, and make a bit of revenue with that. It’s actually great, if they can make more money without raising fares for all the passengers who are able to spell their names correctly, I’ll chalk that up as a win for a pretty vast majority of passengers. They therefore have very little incentive to change these policies.
Finally, names cannot be modified to be coherent with their policy of tickets not being transferable. We’ll be sharing an article about that point very soon.
Make sure you spell your name correctly, exactly as it is spelled on your passport, or else be prepared to pay up to change it : it’s not free.
What do you think about this? Tell us in the comments below.
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This Post Has 2 Comments
O.K., I understand and can accept that, BUT here’s something you didn’t address:
When I bought our tickets online, the website asked for our middle names, and I supplied that. It was only much later that I learned my wife’s official picture ID (Driver’s License, not Passport) lists her MAIDEN name as middle name. Plane ticket and official ID do not match, so if the Airline won’t accept her Notarized Birth Certificate as further proof of identity, then we’re screwed.
That’s quite possible yes. The key is the name on the plane ticket needs to match the name on the passport you will be presenting.
So if the middle name isn’t on the passport, do not enter it on the reservation (it’s never mandatory anyway) and it’ll be alright!