Change Your Name on an Airline Ticket – Last fall, I posted about my failed attempts to change my name on my American Airlines plane ticket.
In the end, I was able to travel on that ticket without paying a fee — but it wasn’t easy.
Read on to learn how to fly with your current ticket, without paying any fees, plus 5 tips for tips for flying without changing your ticket.
Change Your Name on an Airline Ticket
I bought an international plane ticket in March, got married in June, and changed my name in August.
My plane ticket was for December.
I called American Airlines three times to change my name, and they told me it would cost either $100 or $200 (depending on who I talked to) to change my name.
Because it was an international flight, the stakes were considerably higher.
Getting stuck in Miami is one thing.
Getting stuck in Belize is another altogether.
Plus, the ticket was multi-destination so that we could see family for the holidays before heading to Central America, which meant there were more tickets to be issued and more security lines to go through.
Suffice it to say, I was nervous.
Then, fate was suddenly on my side. I found a way to sign up to get fast-tracked to get the elite Gold Status on American Airlines.
After I signed up, I called the Gold hotline — instead of the general customer service number — and was told I would probably be fine flying with my new passport, as long as I brought legal documentation (official name change document or marriage certificate) with me.
The representative still wouldn’t change my name on my ticket, but she did add a note to my file so that when I checked in for my flight, they would already know what to expect.
The fee wasn’t even mentioned.
Bolstered by that conversation, I decided not to change my name on my ticket.
Worst case scenario, I would have some problems getting out of Belize.
It was a tough decision since I was flying internationally, but I figured there are far worse places to get stranded than a tropical destination surrounded by clear blue ocean.
I was able to print the boarding passes with no problem, but that wasn’t the part I was concerned about.
I was worried about security.
Armed with my new passport and driver’s license, a copy of my old passport, and my name change documentation, I held my breath as I approached the TSA security officer at the first airport.
Part of me was sure he wasn’t going to let me through.
He asked to see my legal documentation, carefully check it against my passport and ticket, asked me if I’d gotten married, then let me through.
And he was even friendly!
It went almost as smoothly at airport number two, though there was more hassle at the ticket issuing stage, then no hassle at airport number three on the way back.
I’d made it — without having to pay any fee!
I couldn’t put this post up without a disclaimer.
There’s no way I can know if my situation is unique, or if that’s the way it generally goes.
There are a number of factors that might have been different for me, that you should consider when making your decision about whether or not to pay the fee to change your name before you fly:
The airline you’re flying and its policies.
Do your research.
Elite status. My frequent flier status probably didn’t matter for security line purposes, but it definitely made the airline treat me differently.
Legal name change (including getting married).
I’m sure this would have been completely different if I had just put the wrong name, or misspelled my name, when buying my ticket.
Since I’d legally changed my name due to marriage, it was easier.
Maiden name on passport.
I took my maiden name as my middle name (and my entire name is on my passport), so my former first and last names, plus my new last name, were all on my passport.
I had an original copy of my name change document with me, which is what I showed the TSA officers.
Definitely carry yours with you.
5 Tips for Flying Without Changing Your Name on Your Airline Ticket
Call the airline and ask what their policy is.
Ask if they can change your name (it’s worth a shot) and when they say no, ask if they can add a note to your file so that check-in is easy.
Call back and see if you get a different result with a different agent (it didn’t work for me, but you might as well try).
Get there early.
Give yourself plenty of time to try to go through security with the ticket in your old name.
If it doesn’t work for some reason, go back to the airline counter and see if you can pay to change your name.
Bring all of the documentation you have.
Bring copies of old IDs (passport, driver’s license, other), as well as new IDs and your name change document or marriage certificate.
These are important documents so be sure to keep them safe.
Don’t update your name on either your driver’s license or your passport.
Keep one with your old name (preferably your passport) and use it to fly if you’ve already bought a ticket in your maiden name.
This wasn’t the case for me, but it would have made things easier!
I’ve found that being nice to people in the transportation industry gets you much further — literally.
Remember they have people yelling at them for things that usually aren’t their fault.
Sometimes if you’re nice, people are more willing to help you out.
I hope this helps people in a situation like mine!
Above all, keep your paperwork and IDs safely with you at all times.
How to Not Pay Airline Baggage Fees
In a desperate attempt to cover their costs, airlines across the US are charging for something that was once included in your ticket price: checked luggage.
Whether you’re flying overseas or regionally within the United States, airline baggage fees can add up quickly.
These days, it’s common to pay $25 each way for just one checked bag.
For a family of four, that’s $200 for a round-trip flight!
Thankfully, there are a few simple ways you learn how to not pay airline baggage fees.
Book with an Airline that Doesn’t Charge Baggage Fees
This may sound obvious, but when you’re comparing flights it’s tempting to go for what appears to be the cheapest option.
But with airline tickets, things aren’t always what they seem, and there can be hidden fees.
Before you book your flight, check the airline’s policy on checked luggage.
When you factor in the luggage fees, sometimes you’ll pay less by opting to fly with an airline that offers free checked luggage, even if the ticket is more expensive.
Thankfully, there are still a few airlines that don’t charge baggage fees.
Southwest Airlines seems to be the holdout, and we love them for it!
They still doesn’t charge for your first or second bag.
Even though the fare was a little bit higher, my husband and I used them earlier this year when we knew we couldn’t get around having two pieces of checked luggage each.
We saved over $100 each way by not paying fees for checking luggage.
While passengers flying on JetBlue and WestJet used to be able to check one piece of luggage for free.
Even when all the other airlines began charging — that is no longer the case.
They are both charging now.
It’s a good idea to pack light!
Thankfully, most airlines will still give you at least one free checked bag when flying internationally.
Delta, for example, offers one free piece of luggage when flying between the United States and most international destinations.
The only exception is the United States to Canada though it is free going to Mexico.
If you are in First Class or Business Class, it will be free to check one bag then too.
Not all airlines offer free checked baggage on international flights, so be sure to check before you get to the airport.
There are ways to travel green internationally and save money too.
Get a Frequent Flier Miles Credit Card
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to get a credit card just for the card member perks.
But when you start to add up how much checked luggage fees can cost for frequent travelers, it makes sense for many people to do what they can to avoid the extra fees.
With Delta’s SkyMiles credit cards, you get one checked bag per person for each flight.
I really like that you don’t even have to use your card to book your ticket to get the free first checked bag.
Additionally, you can use the benefit for up to 9 people when they’re traveling under the eligible card member’s reservation.
United offers a similar program with the United MilagePlus Explorer card.
Most of these cards do have annual fees attached, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re using your card enough to actually save money.
If so, frequent flier miles cards are a great way to avoid airline baggage fees, especially if you frequently fly the same airline.
Go First Class or Business Class
If you’re really trying to get out of airline baggage fees (or if someone else is footing the bill!), fly first class.
Many airlines offer up to three free pieces of checked luggage for first class passengers.
Plus, you get the perks of the first class cabin — free cocktails, extra legroom, and attentive service.
You work so hard to get the best deals while traveling, make sure you take some time to learn how to save money on your car rental too.
There’s ways to save money when you travel so be sure to research before you buy.
A decade ago, even the most seasoned travelers wouldn’t have dreamed that they’d be paying extra for checked luggage.
Back then, when we purchased an airline ticket, we knew that it would cover the entire cost of our flight.
Times have changed, but there are still ways to avoid airline fees.
As more airlines start charging for what once was free, use these tips to get around airline baggage fees.