How to Book a Flight for Someone Else
If buying an airline ticket for yourself is exciting, imagine the thrill when you present an airline ticket as a gift to a friend or family member. (And there’s no better way of getting people to visit than offering to pay their way – just saying.) Regardless of whether you’re paying for people to visit you or to take the vacation of their dreams somewhere else, you’ll need some personal information about them before you book the flight.
Basic Information for Air Travel
When you book a ticket for someone else, you’ll need to supply the same information for that traveler that you’d give when you book a ticket for yourself. At a bare minimum, that means her date of birth, full legal name (always ask – you might find out that someone you’ve known for years has been using a nickname) and country of residence. Depending on the ticket you’re buying, you might also need to supply an ID number or passport number (for international flights), although most airlines allow your passenger to fill in passport information after the ticket is purchased.
You Might Want These Extras
As more and more airlines transition to a la carte offerings, setting separate prices on anything that goes beyond the bare seat you’ve purchased, you’re left in the position of deciding which extras your giftee will enjoy. Of course, he can add his own extras later on – but if you’re providing the ticket, you might also want to pay for extra leg room, pre-ordered meals, priority boarding and checked bags (unless he can travel with nothing more than a carry-on that meets airline regulations). If you’re really feeling generous, consider gifting him with TSA PreCheck or a similar fast-access program that helps passengers zip through security lines.
Make Sure You Communicate
As you can see, unless you know the person you’re gifting very well – or unless you want her to fend for herself when it comes to all those little extras that add up – a little pre-gift communication is in order. Don’t stop there: Once everything’s purchased, make sure you send her the full itinerary. Unless you’re buying a ticket for a minor, you’ll probably want to input her confirmation for flight updates, too, so she’s notified immediately in case of cancellations or delays.
Buying Tickets for Minors
If you’re buying a ticket for an unaccompanied minor, each airline’s regulations vary somewhat, so it’s best to check the fine print before you click “Buy” or make any promises. Aside from obvious age restrictions, airlines may also impose rules about how long a layover unaccompanied minors can have, what times of day they can fly, what sort of identification they need, and who can pick them up or drop them off.
Verification Upon Arrival
Although it’s much rarer now than it used to be, on occasion, your traveler might find that their ticket has been flagged for “verification upon arrival,” which means he’ll be asked to provide the credit card used to make the reservation. The easiest solution for this is to book your ticket through a travel agent or a third-party online service like Expedia or Orbitz, because as long as the airlines aren’t the ones taking payment directly from you, they have no reason to worry about potentially fraudulent transactions. If you book directly through the airlines, you can also contact the airline beforehand to verify whether the ticket has been flagged and how best to clear said flag.
Buying Tickets for Others With Air Miles
Almost every airline allows you to purchase tickets for others using your frequent flyer miles. (In other words, you almost never have to pay that pesky fee for transferring miles to others. Make the purchase straight from your own account.) However, most airlines also have strict rules about not selling or bartering frequent flyer miles. So if you give a miles ticket to a friend, make sure he’s prepared to convince the ticket agent that the ticket really is a gift, not a transaction.