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