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Whenever I book a flight through any travel agency/website; they always make a data entry of my name as "BADWAL/SHUMSMR". However, this time I decided to book with Expedia India; and they just inputted my name as "BADWAL/SHUMS" without appending the MR post-fix.

Due to this, when I check my ticket details on the British Airways website, my name shows up as Ms. Shu Badwal; this is probably because my name ends with MS. Would this cause me to have any problems while checking in?

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    Out of curiosity, is it normal in Indian data entry to affix the honorific "Mr." Or "Ms." as the last 2 characters in the last(final) name, like Kalpana Chawlams? – Harper Feb 18 at 2:23
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    If this causes you any problems, blame whoever thought that appending "MR" or "MS" to a firstname to indicate gender (instead of, say, a separate field) would be a good idea... – DevSolar Feb 18 at 9:24
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    @alephzero: Yes, as part of the language, like Svensson, Svensdottir. But "Mr." or "Ms.", in English, is a separate word. And just lumping it to the end of the firstname, and worse, assuming that those letters can be shorn off the firstname again, is a very poorly designed protocol, as it is error-prone (as this question clearly shows). – DevSolar Feb 18 at 17:13
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    I'm probably going to hell for laughing, but that problem is hilarious. You'll probably have a handful of very amused people on the other side when resolving this. (Though I hope it won't be any problem for you). – DonQuiKong Feb 18 at 17:30
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    To be fair, I seem to recall quite regularly finding my boarding passes have my honourific splat-appended to my name, for no apparent reason. I'm in the UK. Point is I'm not sure that this has anything to do with the OP's location of origin if I'm being honest. Ofc I don't know why they do it like this, though I do find it almost hilarious that the system is so used to its own messed-up-ness that other parts of said system have created workarounds that assume it'll happen, and said workarounds have now broken this OP's name! Gah! – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 19 at 0:01
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This will almost certainly not cause you any issues, and if it does they are problems with will be able to be fixed very easily by the BA staff.

There is no requirement to append "MR", "MRS", "MS" or similar to the name on a ticket, although it still does occur sometimes. Both the versions with and without the title are completely valid.

In this case the BA website is seemingly attempting to parse your name, and simply displaying it incorrectly. As long as the ticket itself has a valid version of your name then at most this might cause a few second delay when checking in - although I'd suspect that even that is extremely unlikely.

Although it's less rare now, it used to be that the title was put before the firstname, and frequently only an initial was used for the first name. My first name starts with "S" and I am male, so my tickets often became SURNAME/MRS and more than once I was addressed as "Misses Surname", however it never caused any issues other than some very minor confusion.

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    I'm totally going by "Mrs Surname" from now on because that's awesome – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 19 at 0:03
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    I never have enough of those legacy designs where in plain text special values are interfering with standard content (NO PLATE). – miroxlav Feb 19 at 9:32
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As Doc described in his excellent answer,

This will almost certainly not cause you any issues

But if you are still nervous about this, you can call the travel agent and ask them to add the MR suffix to the reservation as a name update.

Most airlines have a distinction between name changes (where you rebook the ticket to a different passenger) and name updates (fixing small spelling mistakes or adding a second name, but the passenger is still the same person). Usually name changes incur a change fee, but name updates are free.

This is true for most airlines that are not low-cost, and indeed the BA website tells us that if

the name of a person travelling is spelt wrong or doesn't match their name on their passport: Most spelling mistakes in the name of a traveller can be easily corrected over the phone, when all of the flights on their ticket are operated by British Airways. We don't charge for this type of change, however if the taxes, fees, carrier imposed charges or fuel surcharges on the ticket have changed since the booking was made we'll need to take any additional money due for them at this point.

(Note the catch at the end -- it's up to you if you want to take this risk).

However, note that

If you booked through a travel agent or on a travel website, please contact them directly. We can't change tickets they have issued.

For completeness, as this is not applicable in your case, but for future reference: BA has a 24 hour 'cool off' period in which you can cancel the booking and get a full refund regardless of the reason. So if they get your name completely wrong, immediately contact them.

(Source of the quotes: BA Website)

  • If your legal name changes between the time you booked the ticket and the time of the flight, would that necessitate a name change or a name update? – Sean Feb 19 at 4:05
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    @Sean that's probably a separate question. But a quick search shows that at least the major US airlines allow legal name changes for no fee, even JetBlue who does not allow it for any other reason. However, if you have already booked a flight I'd just keep my old passport until after the trip. – CompuChip Feb 19 at 7:21
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I think depending on the departure locale, this can definitely cause you problems checking in. For instance, if you are departing from a busy airport in India such as Mumbai, you may not gain entry to the airport if the guard doesn't think your name matches between the check-in list and your passport.

Whereas, if you are departing from a British Airways hub such as London Heathrow, there will be plenty of British Airways staff who are directly available to assist you and listen to your explanation.

So, depending on your situation it can be very beneficial to spend some time communicating with an Expedia or British Airways representative to change your name record. I would advise first to try British Airways.

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    This is a good point. My brother had a flight out of New Dehli leaving at 01:00h on a particular date. He was stopped at an army checkpoint outside the airport at about 22:00h. The soldier just looked at the date on the ticket and told him, "you are a day early - come back tomorrow". Since the guy had a machine-gun and didn't like to be contradicted, it took my brother a while to convince him that flights can leave quite early in the morning and that he really had to be let through "the day before". – Oscar Bravo Feb 18 at 10:18
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    Any passenger list will show the full name from the PNR -- that is, BADWAL/SHUMS. The missing MS on the website is specific to that website. – Sneftel Feb 18 at 10:30
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    If PNR is correct, then I wouldn't be worried. But based on what Mr. Badwall has written, I can't know whether the PNR has bad data or not. – Douglas Held Feb 18 at 16:36
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    @OscarBravo That's crazy. Sounds like he must have been a new guard (or maybe hoping for a bribe?) A guard admitting people to an airport at 2200 should be completely accustomed to departures being early on the following day... Indeed many, if not most of them probably should be at that time of day. – reirab Feb 18 at 20:20
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    @reirab The guard wasn't an airport employee, he was a regular soldier drafted in to man a checkpoint some distance outside the airport. There had been some incident previously and the govt. had decided to put a Ring of Steel around the airport... The point is that there can often be circumstances where your documents will be checked by someone who is not really all that qualified but who is rather powerful. You don't want to find your papers are not in order... – Oscar Bravo Feb 19 at 7:03
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I work in this industry for one of the major GDS software giants and this is extremely common (I've personally fixed bugs around this area). The legacy code in the software is just not user friendly and what you described happens all the time and in some cases worst things happen (ie someone who's first name is Princess has had no name show up at all with just a title suffix for Princess).

Travel and checkin agents deal with this on a daily basis. Blame the poor design of the legacy software.

  • Ah, here we go - just the person I needed! Could you reflect on this? Is it my imagination? From an outside perspective without any data, it does seem to me like this is a really common bug with yet more bugs layered on top of it (yay enterprise software!) but would love to hear your viewpoint. – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 19 at 0:05
  • Also, your story reminded me of this. – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 19 at 0:06

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