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Middle Name on Boarding Pass

It hasn't come up here (at least as far as I have seen) but on TripAdvisor there are lots of questions in the Air Travel Forum regarding having one's middle name on the boarding pass. The answer has pretty uniformly been that it is not necessary for English language names, unless perhaps one has a first name like Mary Anne, etc. But two days ago there was a major dust-up at the Toronto airport when WOW airlines denied boarding to a number of people whose boarding card did not have a middle name. The reason given was that the name on the boarding card did not match the name on the passport.

http://toronto.citynews.ca/2018/04/09/no-middle-name-ticket-keeps-mississauga-woman-off-flight/

Some of the responses on TripAdvisor suggest this was simply WOW Airlines way of handling an overbooked flight without paying compensation. The airline said it was required to do this under applicable air travel regulations.

I am wondering if this is an isolated occurrence, or maybe the start of a new requirement? I have not ever used middle names on our international flight tickets. I don't recall there even being a space to enter it on the booking form. Does anyone here put theirs on the ticket?

Posted by
6362 posts

I've never used my full middle name when booking tickets. I think I may have used the middle initial because I usually do and it's on my bank and credit cards that way. But even when my middle name isn't on the ticket it has never been an issue when boarding, even though my full middle name is on my passport so they wouldn't match exactly.

I think it's an airline issue myself. It has been mentioned here before, I don't remember how long ago.

Here is one I found from 2015: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/transportation/middle-name-on-passport-but-not-ticket-help

Posted by
18052 posts

What's on your ID (passport for international flight)? The ticket has to agree with your passport. In my case, my passport shows my middle name, so that is what I put on my ticket. If your passport if blank for the middle name, how do they know you really have one?

Posted by
10238 posts

My boarding passes never have my middle name and it is no problem. My passport does.

I asked a TSA supervisor about middle names and she said they are not important as long as you FIRST and LAST names match exactly.

Of course that WOW airline issue happened in Canada and they might have different rules than the U.S.

Posted by
3581 posts

And then you have the situation where the airline's oh-so-sophisticated online system strings the first and middle names together until the character spaces run out. I've pointed this out many times and been told not to worry about it. And that all is well-revealed by my driver license and/or passport.

My first and middle names each have 7 characters. Surely the online systems can't have such a limited number of characters?!

I'll be flying both domestically and overseas this year. I'm not holding my breath that things will be corrected by the time I take those trips.

Posted by
1264 posts

For international flights my wife and I have always included our middle names when purchasing airline tickets because that is what is on our passports. They have always been on our boarding pass. Why take chances?

Posted by
12534 posts

My passport shows my middle name as part of my "given name". I believe that is a legal requirement; the passport name must match the name on the birth certificate. But there is no room for a "middle" name.

I looked at the booking form for British Airways, which we always use for our Europe flights. They ask only for "first" and "last" names. And actually they are filled in automatically if I am logged n to my BA Executive Club account. So say it is "Lola Jones." I have flown on British Airways with that name on my ticket and boarding card more times that I care to count she nice 2003. No problem passing through security, and no problem boarding.

So if middle name on the boarding pass is a requirement, it must be a new one, but it has not been announced anywhere that I have seen.

What is interesting is that the passengers were not turned away at security; they were simply denied boarding at the gate. So it was an airline thing, not TSA or other security measure. And if it is specific to Canada, it appears to be new, as everyone was surprised by this. So maybe it is just WOW Airlines.

Or maybe it was just an excuse to get some people off an overbooked flight as some have suggested.

Posted by
3291 posts

“We encourage all passengers to use the names as they appear on the official identification they will use when travelling,” said spokeswoman Marie-Anyk Côté. “This will minimize delays at check-in or at the boarding gate.”

I will say experience with (many) other airlines this is not true, middle names can be omitted or truncated, but to be fair the WOW site does say this,

"Please enter names (first, middle and family name) exactly as they appear on the passenger's passport."

So if the airline requires it, then one can be turned back regardless of government practices, I guess. Sure makes me want to avoid WOW, especially reading the comment written below the article:

"My husband was denied boarding by Wow Air at Pearson on April 3rd, because they incorrectly truncated his middle name. Online records show that First, Middle and Last names were correctly included in the reservation (as reflected in his Canadian passport), but their online generated boarding pass truncated his name incorrectly.

Wow Air then denied responsibility and forced him to buy a new ticket. We are shocked and unsure what recourse is available."

Posted by
16877 posts

As Tom just said, lots of people's full names won't fit on a boarding pass. I have one right here with a portion of the middle name that I provided. My full name is (only) 21 letters and the KLM/Delta boarding pass accommodates 19 letters.

Posted by
3901 posts

It’s even more fun when you’ve used your middle name your whole life, and have to remind yourself to answer to a whole different name when flying. Thanks mom...lol.

Posted by
14 posts

I have been traveling with student groups (30-60 high schoolers) for 25 years. I always recommend that their birth name/passport name be included on airline tickets. While it's not 100% necessary 100% of the time, it definitely helps us avoid hassles when that one official decides that today is the day you need your middle name. Better safe than sorry, I guess.

Posted by
6829 posts

I have always used my first, my middle( my maiden name) and last name to match my passport. Several airlines have required this.

Posted by
746 posts

Suki: That's how my wife's name is shown on her IDs, so that's how we book tickets. The combined name (maiden and married) ends up being quite long and often gets cut off on boarding passes. It's never become an issue, but I have my fingers crossed every time.

I had never had a middle-initial problem until February, when I was flying home from Charlotte. My middle initial is "J". The airline's printed boarding pass showed my last name, first name and then an "M". The first TSA agent questioned it, and I replied that it probably signified "Mr." and the printer had cut it off. He called his supervisor over, and he made me go back to the airline counter and ask an agent what the "M" was for. It was, of course, for "Mr.". Back I went to the TSA line, explained to the agent and his supervisor the answer I'd been given, and showed them my electronic boarding passes from the previous day, which showed the full "Mr." abbreviation. The supervisor then said "good enough" and waved me through. But he could have just as easily balked again.

It's always something, and this was a new something for me.

Posted by
2970 posts

I too, have used first, middle & last name to match Passport. Just flew domestic to Hawaii and always match my driver's license to boarding pass (per Hawaiian Airlines).

Posted by
5697 posts

I believe this question came up here within the last year. My United Mileage Plus account contains the name shown on my passport -- first name, deceased husband's last name (used at work for years), divorced second husband's last name -- so it automatically populates my United boarding pass.

When my current husband bought us tickets using his United miles, his Mileage Plus account only had first and last name even though his middle name is on his passport. When we noticed the discrepancy on his boarding pass he called United and they made a notation of the middle name on his record ( and sent the notation on to Lufthansa, which was flying the return.) No problem on either flight, and lesson learned for all future flights.

Posted by
2302 posts

I will add in that I used to show my middle name, as I put in on my passport as it has always been on my drivers license. Last trip we were on United, and even though “middle name” was a completely separate field for all the entries online, my middle name was somehow added to my first name directly on my boarding pass and their records. Which caused us to be unable to use the passport kiosks and we needed agent handling when we came back into Dulles, and may have been the reason our Mobile Passport App would not go through (although that could have been a Dulles issue.) So for now I will omit my middle name/initial.

Posted by
3291 posts

Larry, that's a typical scenario. I often get
Lastname/FirstnameMiddlenameMr on my boarding pass, or
Lastname/FirstnameMiddlM or some truncated thing also.

To think there's one approach, "Just put in the name on your passport--that will work" is bogus. If the WOW airlines comment I quoted above is true, there is no way people with long middle names are able to fly that airline.

Posted by
6160 posts

My boarding pass always gets printed out with some truncation or abbreviation of my names regardless of what I put in when making the reservation. Never been questioned about it.

Posted by
10238 posts

My passport has my middle name. My boarding passes hardly ever have it. I have never been hassled by anyone. I flew two days ago and they didn't care. In fact, on many non-U.S. airlines there isn't even a place for middle names when booking a flight.

Airport security in numerous different countries have never bothered me. Passport Control has never asked to see a boarding pass. When arriving back in the U.S. they know what flight I was on. (At the GE terminals they always ask me to confirm the flight I was on. I don't have to enter it, it's there.

Now, if there is something extrra they don't expect, it might be questioned.

I have a feeling there is more to the story regarding the situation with WOW airlines.

Posted by
3291 posts

I have a feeling there is more to the story regarding the situation with WOW airlines.

It's pretty clear that there is nothing else to the story, WOW airlines has stricter policies, and they have nothing to do with government policies.

Posted by
996 posts

I have one right here with a portion of the middle name that I provided. My full name is (only) 21 letters and the KLM/Delta boarding pass accommodates 19 letters.

My full name is 25 letters, so they love me on boarding passes. ;-)

Having said that, I have my first name/maiden name/married last name on my flight reservation b/c that matches the ID I am showing to board the flight, domestic or international.

I have read many accounts where people say that the presence or absence of a middle name makes no difference, but those have all been US based accounts which I have read.

Posted by
3176 posts

I can speak for my experience on Delta; they use my middle initial. So it's ConnieJ Lastname. My passport has my full middle name which is my maiden name. I've never had an issue flying domestically or internationally with my middle initial being put at the end of my first name. I have no idea why that happens.

Posted by
926 posts

On a domestic flight out of Las Vegas to home, I was issued someone else's boarding pass. Same last name, different first name. I didn't notice and TSA didn't notice. I made it all of the way to the gate. Then I noticed it.
My flight was booked by a travel agent and it turns out they didn't really book the flight and I did not have a seat. Travel agent arranged for another flight (first class to ease my anger) that left from the same terminal. I wonder what would have happened if I tried to use that boarding pass....
I went to the new gate and the gate agent issued me a boarding pass. However, since it was issued from the gate, it triggered a security alert. I had to leave the terminal and go through security again. My bag was unpacked and searched and my person was patted down. I guess someone had to pay for the poor security.

Posted by
4524 posts

Just to add information to this thread, the issue many don't realize is that airlines are held financially responsible if someone on an international flight is denied entry. They face very hefty fines. So airlines typically check passports to be sure they match to the airline ticket name. If a visa is required, they will also check to be sure that is valid.

It has nothing to do with TSA or security. It has nothing to do with government regulations. It has nothing to do with boarding passes.

In this case with WOW, it seems they or an employee over-reacted and started denying boarding passes to those whose middle name, or lack thereof, didn't match their passport. It is not common practice with other airlines. A cynic might say it was WOW trying to avoid overbooking payments, but it just as easily might have been poorly trained new employees or a misunderstanding about a rule clarification. Or WOW may just have horrible customer service, which seems is true based on the article.

Posted by
2349 posts

I just printed boarding passes for a domestic flight tomorrow. Apparently I used our full middle names when I booked. Our driver's licenses just show middle initial. Should I take passports just in case? They show the full name just like our boarding passes.

Posted by
10238 posts

Three days ago I flew domestically with no middle name on boarding pass. No problem. Yesterday I flew from the US to the UK on British Airways. No middle name on boarding pass. No problem. The airline did check my passport to make sure it was valid. That's all.

Posted by
2349 posts

So I had booked our flights with full middle names, and our driver's licenses only show middle initial. At screening, the TSA agent said that was not an issue and we just used the DLs. I'd taken passports just in case.

Booking like that had not been intentional. Before I'd always checked our name format and made sure that the ticket matched. I think my standard format will be First Middle Last full names. That's the passport format and it seems to be OK for the state DL format of First MI Last.