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I'm flying to Peru with my girlfriend next week and I realized that her name is incorrect on the reservation.

Instead of Sally Marie Jones it's Jones Marie Sally.

We're flying into Houston, then Lima, and in Lima we switch airlines for our flight to Cajamarca.

I booked the ticket with Orbitz who made the reservation with United. United booked the flight with LAN air, the Peruvian airline.

Both companies say that they are unable to change the name because of TSA restrictions not allowing a name change. I asked if I could just cancel and re-book, but United said they could not do this because there are multiple airlines involved.

A note has been attached to the reservation explaining the issue, and the United rep said that they would be able to print her boarding pass with the correct name. However, he said there are no guarantees that she'll be able to fly because although the boarding pass will be correct, the ticket will still have the reversed name.

I was prepared to just take the chance that it will all work out, seeing how it's really obvious the name is just backwards, but with recent events I'm worried that US airport security is going to be extra strict for the next little while.

Is this something I need to worry about, or are chances good that this will work out fine?

The United rep said there's a chance we could cancel the United flights and get a new ticket with the correct name for no cost, but we'd have to pay for new tickets within Peru ($500 out of the total $1300 ticket cost). I'd rather not do this unless there's a reasonable chance we'll have trouble at the airport.

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Everything was fine, but if it happened again I wouldn't mention anything unless they brought it up. On the way there we mentioned the issue, which resulted in a few hassles including us being seated apart and her not getting her vegetarian meal. On the way back we just kept our mouths shut and didn't have any problems. –  Dean May 13 '13 at 20:20
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5 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

It is at the discretion of the one checking your boarding pass but since they generally want you to have a good experience with them, obvious inacuracies are often let go.

For a reversed name case, I really would not worry about it. All the parts are there and correctly spelled, so that would be easy to understand. Foreign airport personnel might not even notice.

Having flown well over 100 times I can say that I've only had one person who took issue because my name contains non-English characters which had been replaced by English ones and even so I was allowed in without much delay.

One of my friends James has even had tickets issued as Jim and had no problems in English speaking countries. In Peru, it took a bit of arguing but they let him in anyway.

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In my experience, they never care if it's not exactly right. I have a difficult name, and I stopped worrying about errors a long time ago, because travel agents never get it right, and their system will mess up the formatting anyway.

The rules say that the name on the ticket must be exactly as in the passport, but I never follow that rule. The only time I've been in trouble, was the time somebody at work ordered a ticket for me in my full name (despite my specific orders not to). Since the name is long, there wasn't room on the boardong card for my last name, and all characters outside the standard English 26 character alphabet became garbled.

I very much doubt that, with the thousands of passengers they see every day, I'm the only one who shows up with a "non-accurate" name.

One example could be a passenger from, let's say, Russia or Japan, where names are often reversed.

If the travel agent cannot change the ticket, you've done all you can. If there's a note attached to the ticket (I've never heard of this procedure), and the boarding card, which is the document you will actually need, is correct, I can't see a problem at all.

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That's a really good point about Russian/Japanese names, thanks! –  Dean Apr 19 '13 at 15:36
    
Russian names are not reversed, only the spelling is complicated. Aka: Kravchuk vs Kravtchuk vs Kravtchouke vs ... –  tohecz Jan 15 at 19:01
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I had a similar problem where my hyphenated last name (example: Rosa Saragoza-Mendez) was accidentally reversed on my passport so that it appeared like Rosa Mendez-Saragoza (not my real name). I traveled internationally a few times while using this passport, and it was never an issue. Granted, that situation was different than having two documents with similar, but reversed, names.

On some occasions where the airline ticket vendor did not require me to use my name exactly as it appeared on my passport, I would use my correct name instead of the version printed on the passport. So then my ticket would have my real name, and my passport would have my reversed name on it. Since it was an obvious error, I would just explain to the people at the ticket counter that my last name had been accidentally reversed. In my experience, it was never a problem.

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Good to hear! Orbitz and United would just say "there's no guarantee", even after prodding them for the likelihood. –  Dean Apr 19 '13 at 20:08
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Other answers say it all, but I will just add a personal experience.

My name is Mohammed Halabi, do you know how many variations my name's spelling has?

Mohamed 
Mohammad
Mohamad
Muhammed
Muhammad
Muhamad
Muhamed

Same with my last name, it can be Halabi or Halaby or even Halabe!

Basically, every boarding pass I ever had was with a different spelling, and I never had any problem. In your case spelling is right, no one will notice. Just enjoy your flight with your girlfriend Jones ;)

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This is very comforting, thanks! –  Dean Apr 21 '13 at 17:07
    
#1 and #3 look very similar to me :) –  Jonas Apr 21 '13 at 18:41
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lol @Jonas I fixed it.. –  user1712 Apr 21 '13 at 18:44
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I often seem to travel with "Mr" appended to my first name, because my travel agent isn't very good at distinguishing between the name and the prefix. I've also had my name switched before as you describe. No-one (airline check-in, security staff, etc.) has ever even mentioned it. I highly doubt this is going to cause an issue; it's an obvious mistake. Relax and enjoy your holiday :)

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Well, MR is almost always there, as in DOE/JOHNMR, isn't it? –  tohecz Jan 15 at 19:05
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