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French citizens often have several first names, which are mentioned on their passport. Are French citizens supposed to indicate all their first names when booking a flight ticket?

On one side I read that airline ticket names must match ID exactly (mirror). On the other side, some mainstream airline websites (e.g., American Airlines) have a maximum field length for the first name(s), which don't allow entering over ~13 characters, which typically isn't enough for several first names.

  • Have you tried modifying the HTTP request with e.g. Fiddler to make your full name being sent? – Mikael Dúi Bolinder Oct 11 at 22:25
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    @MikaelDúiBolinder Unless you are looking to explore the stability of a lowest-bid 2018 web interface strapped onto a 1980s ticketing mainframe, that's probably not a great idea. The "Name of passenger" box for e-tickets has the same restriction on size as the paper ticket box did, and also needs to remain in synchronization the PNR reservations record which is on a separate system. Just make sure the family name and the first name is correct. – Calchas Oct 12 at 18:51
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    @MikaelDúiBolinder that sounds like a good way to mess up the reservation but it's tempting to try though :-) but I've already booked the flight for that one. – Franck Dernoncourt Oct 12 at 18:53
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The linked article is over 10 years old, and contains the interpretation of a journalist. In practice, using your usual first name and last name is the usual way, and works perfectly fine.
The main point of that regulation is to not abbreviate your first or last name, change the spelling, or use nick names.

Especially in the US it is very common to use a nick name that is (or is not) derived from your given name, like 'Dick' for 'Richard', or 'Joe' for 'Joseph', or 'Bob' for 'Robert', etc. People were used to use these short forms when booking flights before that change.

Of course, if you ask around, you'll always find someone that isn't sure and recommends to use all you first names, or 'be on the sure side and call the airline'.that works, but costs you time and money, and is unnecessary extra effort.

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It's usually best to type exactly what it says in your passport to avoid any issues or problems at immigration.

If your name doesn't fit in the name field it is probably best to call the airline and to book over the phone.

Or as suggested by phoog:

Another option would be to ask the website user support how to handle the specific name. Something like "My given names are Elizabeth Christina Genevieve Isabella Gwendolyn Esmeralda; how should I enter my name on your website?"

  • Another option would be to ask the website user support how to handle the specific name. Something like "My given names are Elizabeth Christina Genevieve Isabella Gwendolyn Esmeralda; how should I enter my name on your website?" Since some airlines charge more for a phone booking, one might they ought to help, or at least waive the fee. – phoog Oct 11 at 19:18
  • @phoog also time isn't free, and calling is often much more time-consuming than using a website. – Franck Dernoncourt Oct 11 at 19:22
  • @FranckDernoncourt sure, but trying to navigate user support can also be time consuming and/or frustrating. That has been my experience, at least, with Lufthansa online check in. I've never had too much trouble booking tickets though I usually omit my middle name, which is 14 characters including spaces. – phoog Oct 11 at 19:33
  • When I scan my ID card to check in, my second given name is always cut short to the exact number of digits available, never been a problem. On booking tickets I mostly only enter first given name (10 letters). – Willeke Oct 12 at 5:54
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    It’s not just the French. Multiple first names are common all over Europe. I have four given names. If a form says “first name” (singular) I just enter my first given name, which is also the name I use normally. If they ask for "given name(s)" (plural) I enter all my names. If there is a middle name field I leave it empty. – Krist van Besien Oct 12 at 6:13

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