How to Change the Name on an Airline Ticket
If you made a typo while buying an airline ticket and misspelled your own name, have no fear: Most airlines will let you make small corrections to your name with a minimum of fuss. However, if you've gone through a legal name change, it may take a little more effort to get your reservations and legal identification all lined up. And if you want to let someone else use your ticket, you probably won't be so lucky. Most airline tickets are not transferable, and those that are usually come with a hefty fee attached.
How to Correct a Mistake in Your Name
If you've made a small mistake while entering your name during the purchase process, most airlines will let you correct this online or through their customer service desk. Each airline's procedure varies, so either hunt through the FAQs on their website or contact customer service and ask how you should proceed. Don't leave this until the last minute, though, because if there's a discrepancy between the spellings of your legal identification and your flight reservation, you might not be allowed to fly.
If Your Name Has Actually Changed
If you've married, divorced or changed your legal name for any other reason, contact your airline's customer service desk as soon as possible to register that change on any bookings, as well as your frequent flyer account. Keep in mind that all your travel documentation needs to match exactly – so your passport, driver's license and any other identification you're using will need to be updated too.
Act Quickly for Name Changes
There are two reasons to make any name changes as soon as possible before your flight: First, some airlines require as much as two weeks to process a change to your reservation. Second, most airlines allow fee-free changes, and even full-on cancellation, within the first 24 hours following your reservation. So if you can get in touch with them quickly, you should have smooth sailing.
The Hunt for Transferable Airline Tickets
Most airline tickets are nontransferable, which means you can't bow out of the reservation and let someone else take it instead. The few airlines that do offer ticket transfers usually charge a hefty fee for doing so. Purchasing the lowest-price tickets – which are also the least flexible – is a surefire way of guaranteeing you won't be able to make this type of change to your ticket. More flexible tickets are also more expensive, but they give you an easy out of the name change issue. If you're flying on a refundable ticket, you have the option of cancelling it and then applying the refund to a new ticket in the correct name.
Now that you've corrected any discrepancies between your airline reservation and your legal identification, make sure you also follow TSA regulations for packing liquids and prohibited items.