Air Travel – Can I Change The Name on an Airplane Ticket?

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airline-ticket

Have you ever had one of those days?

I booked tickets for my wife and I to fly up to Vancouver, British Columbia for the TBEX conference. As is my habit I used the TripAdvisor flight search which is my day job. TripAdvisor flight search searches a variety of sites and the cheapest fare for me happened to be found at CheapOAir.com. So far so good. I booked the tickets separately, paid with my credit card and received two emails from CheapOAir.com with the details for the flight.

Problem – My Airplane Ticket has the Wrong Name

That’s when I noticed that although my wife’s name is Joan, I had booked using her computer which apparently has a problem that the “a” key sticks. The ticket had been issued to “Jon”. Crap. You may have heard that you can’t change the name on an airline ticket (not true) or that changing the name can be a expensive hassle (somewhat true).

I contacted CheapOAir right away and they got back to me and told me the good news. I had booked this ticket with United. You used to be able to reserve a ticket on United for 24 hours without paying anything. You can’t do that any more but it turns out you do have 24 hours to cancel the ticket with no charge. All we had to do was cancel the ticket and reissue it.

Different airlines have different policies (see AirfareWatchdog.com’s Airlines’ courtesy fare-hold and 24-hour cancel/change policies for details).

Bigger Problem – I Failed to Notice the Problem Right Away

By the time we got the new ticket it was over 24 hours after I booked it and only then it occurred to me that since my problem came from a sticky keyboard I really ought to check the other ticket. You guessed it. The name on my Ticket was “Chri Christensen”. I contacted James at CheapOAir again and he told me that I would probably have to pay a $114 fee to change the ticket. Those are the rules for United. James said he would try to get the fee waved but certainly could not promise anything.

Fortunately James was able to sweet talk United into waving the fee. Now, I have contacts at CheapOAir because I am a travel blogger and honestly I don’t know if that helped me. But I am thankful for the help that James, et al gave me. The mistake was mine, not theirs. All they got for their time was a hassle and my thanks.

Lesson

The lesson here is:

  1. Make sure you check the name on the ticket before you book your ticket
  2. Double check it as soon as you get the confirmation.

I was lucky to be able to change the name on a ticket after 24 hours but you should not count on that.

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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

10 Responses to “Air Travel – Can I Change The Name on an Airplane Ticket?”

Charu

Says:

Chris, I’ve had this problem before with a boarding card, not so much the ticket. Glad it worked out.

chris2x

Says:

I am flying ticketless as I have done for years, so yes it would actually have been the boarding pass where the issue would come up.

Tara

Says:

Chris,

Thank you for sharing your story. I recently booked a flight to Turkey through CheapOAir only to discover (after the 24 hr period of course) that my name last name had been replaced by my fellow passenger’s last name (a friend and non-relative). I contacted CheapOAir and was put in touch with George who asked me to provide him a copy of my passport so he could make a request to the airlines (United and Turkish Air) to change my name. He informed me that it would be approximately 14 business days before I the airlines would confirm if this request will be granted. I am curious as to how long it took you to resolve your similar situation, as 14 days seems like an exceptionally long time. My trip is in October, but needless to say I am very stressed that I might not be able to go. Do you happen to have the contact information for James, the individual you said was very helpful in resolving your issue? I would greatly appreciate any tips on this matter.

Thank you for your assistance,

Tara

Katie

Says:

I have always wondered about what happens in a situation like this. So happy things were okay. #Travelnightmares

samja

Says:

Hey could you help me by resolving my prob?
Please i have same prob

chris2x

Says:

That is not something I do but Chris Elliott (http://elliott.org/) does.

Rahat Alamgir

Says:

I booked my ticket from LGA TO DFW by mistake typing my fist name spelling wrong my fist name is Rahat but type Rahar I call 1 800-566-2345 a nice lady ( Sarey ) solve the problem with in 2-3 minutes thank you.

Sai

Says:

Hi @Tara we’re you able to get the name changed ?

I am in a similar situation, where my mom’s last name was given incorrectly and it already past the 24 hour time. I have booked through cheapoair with Saudi Arabia airlines.

Can someone please suggest how to resolve this, I have tried to call cheapoair and representative is no friendly and rejected to change the last name.

Thanks,
Sai

chris2x

Says:

If you don’t catch it quickly it can be a real problem.

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