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.

  • 12
    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
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 20:20
  • 1
    Just happened to me for 2 tickets and I had to cancel and rebook through the agent resulting in 1800 euros extra charges. Basically I have paid my tickets twice as I couldn't get refund as per policy on the first tickets. No flexibility from both South African airways and airticket Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 15:21

6 Answers 6


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.


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.

  • 1
    That's a really good point about Russian/Japanese names, thanks!
    – Dean
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 15:36
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    Russian names are not reversed, only the spelling is complicated. Aka: Kravchuk vs Kravtchuk vs Kravtchouke vs ...
    – yo'
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 19:01
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    @yo' that's debatable. I've seen the formatting "Surname, First Name Patronymic" many times (it's also the typical name formatting on the Russian version of Wikipedia).
    – Estey
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 15:41

Other answers say it all, but I will just add a personal experience.

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


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 ;)

  • 2
    huh, I thought your first name was I :p
    – CGCampbell
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 21:38

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.

  • 1
    Good to hear! Orbitz and United would just say "there's no guarantee", even after prodding them for the likelihood.
    – Dean
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 20:08

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 :)

  • 2
    Well, MR is almost always there, as in DOE/JOHNMR, isn't it?
    – yo'
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 19:05
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    The MR suffix isn't a mistake, it's just an artifect of the reservation systems. There aren't fields for every name component
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 14:29
  • @Berwyn another example is having "PHD" appended to your last name (by the United booking website, in this case). This is more difficult as it impacts your ability to check in (and so forth) with booking code and last name. But United said it won't be a problem flying.
    – bers
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 17:27
  • Some years ago, KLM was in the habit of using only first initials, as is common in the Netherlands, and appending a title. So Maurits Cornelis Escher would be ESCHER/MCMR. At some point after 2001 they started spelling out the names, so ESCHER/MAURITSCORNELISMR.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 14:46

For those who are looking for a more recent answer, I am happy to share my experience of July 2018. I also mistakenly switched my first with my last name when booking my flights. I was not able to change it since I booked through a travel website who were unhelpful (mytrip.com!) and airlines absolutely refused to assist since I didn't book directly. I then gave up trying to fix it and just decided to chance it at the airport. I was flying from Israel to USA with a stopover. When checking in they couldnt find my booking right away, as they always scan your passport and in this case it didn't recognise my name. I had my booking nr ready for this situation and insisted on them checking manually in the system. I still don't know if they noticed the mistake in name or not but they issued the boarding passes - still with wrong name. Once you are through with that it is highly unlikely that any official or machines that scan your boarding pass will notice the issue. On the way out from NY was more complicated as it didn't go unnoticed and took some time to issue my boarding pass but the impression i got was that this is not considered as severe as a spelling mistake. At this point she was not able to change my name and check in lady walked me to passport control in case there was an issue. Luckily it went unnoticed and from there it was smooth sailing. At my stopover in London I again mentioned to an official that my names are switched round as the self service machines would not let me through but again, no issue was made. So I hope this can calm you down abit and no need to spend the absurd fees some agencies/airlines try to squeeze out of you. Safe travels!

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