Is it always necessary to include your middle name(s) in an airline reservation? In short, no…but it’s still foolish not to.
The Guardian shares the story of a passenger who booked with Blue Panorama, an Italian airline operating from bases in Rome and Milan. She booked her ticket via kiwi.com and did not include her middle name. At the airport, she was denied check-in because the name on her ticket did not exactly match her passport. Her options were to buy a new walk-up ticket for €300 or cancel her trip.
Stories like this are few and far between. Some airlines ask for your middle your middle name but don’t even include it on the boarding pass. Others ask only for middle initial. Most indicate “optional” next to the middle name box when filling in passenger information. It’s not a stretch to take airlines or online travel agencies plainly at their word, rather than think the information is “optional” only for those who do not have a middle name.
For years I resisted including my middle name on my ticket because Matthew Jonathan Klint usually became KLINT/MATTHEW JONAT due to character limitations on the boarding pass and the “Jonat” thing always bugged me.
Most carriers have now solved this problem. Even if they have not, I include my full name so that it matches my Known Traveler Number, allowing me to use PreCheck before my flight to clear security faster. Perhaps even that is unnecessary to still use preCheck.
Not A TSA Problem
We are warned by some airlines that our name must match our ID. While that is a best practice, the TSA is not going to be your roadblock.
Small differences between ID and reservation information, such as the use of a middle initial instead of a full middle name or no middle name/initial at all, should not cause a problem for the passenger.
While not as so clear-cut as to remove all risk (“should not” versus “will not”), I’ve never seen the TSA ask about my middle name, despite many flights on carriers in which my middle name was not included (including many Aeroplan-issued award tickets, a common mode of travel).
Budget airlines tend to be stricter than others, though that seems to be a commercial decision aimed at extracting additional revenue, not a security requirement. Over the years, I’ve never faced a problem for failing to add my middle name. But to mitigate risk, I add it anyway so that my ticket matches my ID precisely. You should too. Why risk it?
image: American Airlines
Always include every name on your passport. Just went to China and had some issues. Could not advance check in on the flight going out and then again, got the dreaded your name does not match your passport on the return. I flew on American on their $305 round trip airfare (awesome trip) this last weekend and had signed up back in 1994 for my American Advantage program.
Back then, middle names and suffixes were not a big thing. When you make a reservation on American today, as soon as you enter the Advantage number, it loads your Advantage name and erases any name you made on the reservation. On departure, I had to go to customer service to get my boarding pass. On the return, the app said I could not check in and had to do it at the airport. At the airport kiosk, it gave me the boarding pass finally. It happen to my traveling partner as well, I had no “JR” and she had no middle name on her Advantage number.
Today, I will call AA and get my Advantage name to be change to my passport name.
Never denied boarding but I did get a lecture from a LCC for not putting my FULL name in a booking …I have 2 middle names on birth certificate and passport, but I only put 1 in the booking because it only allowed for 1. Consequently it was my ‘fault’ that the auto checkin machine couldn’t reconcile booking with passport. They weren’t very gracious about it but relented .
“Perhaps even that is unnecessary to still use preCheck.”
I think it is still necessary. My wife’s had issues once or twice with Precheck not populating on her boarding pass because her GE card includes her middle name, but I’ve forgotten to include it when booking tickets. Nothing a trip to the ticket counter can’t fix, but annoying nonetheless.
Well, the problem is that passports usually have no space for middle names so it makes messy when you are booking an air ticket since the way names are shown is different. Passports show “Given name” and “Surname” so if you have a middle name depending on the country it will be either entered as “Given name” or “Surname” but not on a separate filed as “Middle Name”. Just a big mess.
Definitely for China, HK, or Taiwan, you must have name exactly as in your passport. This caused a problem with using Avios points for a China to HK flight couple of years ago. In the end, I was able to board without a middle name on my booking, as Avios don’t have a field nor the care to add a middle name for strict airlines like Cathay.
My husband has 3 middle names. His name doesn’t even fit on his driver’s license, nonetheless booking programs that don’t allow spaces.
We would have deleted some names by now if it wasn’t such a complicated process
Middle names may be problematic at times, but suffixes are a whole other headache. US airlines capture suffix data as its own field (and suffix match is not required for precheck), but US passports generally include the suffix as part of the surname field (i.e. “Smith II”). So, for instance, this can lead to issues when booking foreign tickets via US airlines as to how/whether the suffix gets passed along. Or when booking direct with an airline in countries where suffixes aren’t common, whether or not to include as part of the name.
Thankfully, in my experience this tends to largely just be an issue for automated processes (such as online check-in or kiosks) — when dealing with an agent, I can often tell that they are typing away to resolve a passport mismatch when checking in, but they usually don’t even mention it to me when correcting it. Common sense seems to prevail in this area.
My passport and global entry has my middle name. But I never include it on airline tickets. Travel to China 50 times a year on a visa and a dozen other countries. Have never had a problem.
I hate it when my middle name is required because airline systems don’t properly separate the names and often display only the initial. My middle name begins with A, and adding A to the end of my (male) first name constructs an actual female name (similar to ROBERT – ROBERTA). At least with MATTHEWJ it’s obvious that it’s an initial. A number of times gate agents have called out the feminized version and both gate agents and flight attendants have been confused that I am male, thought I was in the wrong seat, etc. Every time I board a UA flight, both the boarding pass reader and the gate agent’s screen show the equivalent of ROBERTA. I’m sure someday a see-something-say-something type of person boarding behind me is going to suggest that there has been a security breach.
Robert/a or Sam/i would indeed be annoying!
This passenger should file a complaint with the Italian authorities and, if no satisfactory resolution, with the European Union. I suspect they would quickly receive compensation. The airline was totally unreasonable.
I’ve never had a problem boarding due to name issues, but Cathay Pacific’s name fields tend to lose AA status benefits in translation. Specifically, upgrades won’t clear for AA connecting flights and I typically find myself dumped into group 7 until I point out the discrepancy.
It happened to my father. I had purchased a JAL Business ticket through Alaska’s Mileage Plan. The reservation asked for the middle name which I provided, but only the first and last name transferred over to JAL. My father was denied boarding in Singapore.
It’s not necessary to have middle name into your booking as Long as first name and surname is correct. But somome airline make a issue about 2nd name if you have one. My personal opinion those just option for airline to make extra money.cusotmer identify by their 1st name and the surname and importantly passport information already include in the booking so don’t know where is problem
There is a lot of discussion about the middle name being included on the ticket, which I make it a practice to include. Twice my middle name was not on my ticket for international travel but it was not a problem at the airport. I think the confusion is where should the middle name be added when booking a flight reservation. Certainly I would not add it in the last name field of a reservation page but there is often no middle name field either. Once I added my first and middle name together in the “first name” field but the middle name did not get captured on the ticket; luckily, it did not cause a problem at the airport. The second time I booked a ticket I did not leave a space between the first and middle name in the “first name” field, and the ticket showed my name as FIRSTNAMEMIDDLENAME, without a space; and this did not cause a problem when at the airport. Thus, this is the convention that is used on all of my flight tickets. Interestingly, United Airlines, which I am a MileagePlus member, combines my first name and middle name together without a space on all of my tickets and this does not seem to cause anyone heartache at the airport of departure and it also matches the name on my passport (except without the space).
Flying in US is not an issue but some countries are very particular about the matching name on passport and ticket. I am very concerned now because my passport has only initial of my middle name although global entry has the full middle name listed. I used my points to buy the international ticket (Qatar airline) and the website would not allow middle initial ( 3 minimum alphabets required for middle name -really ?!?) so I ended up putting the full middle name. when the ticket was issued it combined first and middle name with no space just like ROD mentioned above. This happened to me in the past as well once. Certain airline computer just do that. I called Qatar airline but as they did not issue tickets they can not help but sounds concerned. AS I am going to via Qatar and to Thailand which sometimes a=can be very strict-I hope they will let me in! I am taking all document with full middle name.