I am helping a friend (from Togo but who has lived in the US several years) to book a flight for her sister and children to come live with her here. (They have all visas/paperwork in order. This is a one-way flight/move)

How do a book a flight from here in the US and then get the ticketing information and boarding pass to her?

2 Answers 2


You're not saying which airline they'll be flying with -- but in general practically all airline tickets these days are e-tickets, which means there is no physical ticket and everything happens in the airline's computer system. You book the travel online, specifying the names of the travelers, and then whoever shows up at the check-in desk at the airport and presents a passport in the right name gets to fly.

For flights to the US, the airline will generally want some additional passenger information with the booking, to pass on to the American authorities -- things like dates of birth, passport/visa numbers and where in the US they will be staying. Your friend can provide this information to the airline if she handles the booking process.

Beware that if the ticket is bought directly from the airline using a payment card, some airlines will by default assume that the holder of the credit card is flying too, and will require this particular credit card to be shown at check-in. It should always be possible to avoid this, if you look out for checkboxes stating whether the cardholder is in the group during the booking process. If in doubt, call the airline's customer service and provide them with the 6-character booking confirmation number to make sure the card won't be required at check-in.

It will be useful to forward a copy of the confirmation email from the airline to the sister, so she can bring a printout with her to the airport -- not because she would ordinarily need it to prove she has a ticket (though the information in it might be useful if the check-in agent has trouble finding the right reservation), as much as so she has a reliable record of her itinerary with times and flight numbers.

  • 5
    In my recent experience in Africa, it's necessary to present proof of a ticket in order to enter the airport building. I don't know if it will be the case in Togo, but the possibility makes it that much more important for the traveler to print a copy of the itinerary before going to the airport. For "credit card required" tickets, it is sometimes necessary for the card holder to travel to the airline's local office to present the card; a friend of mine had to do this a few months ago for a ticket he'd bought for his son.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 22:07
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    @phoog Yeah, in some developing countries I've been to there were army personnel at airport entrances asking to see the tickets of all travelers before letting them in.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 22:15
  • @Fiksdal -- have they never heard of yanno, general aviation before? :P Or does that not exist in those countries? Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 0:52
  • @UnrecognizedFallingObject presumably they have other arrangements for the general aviation people.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 2:16
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    @phoog Presumably "airport building" means the airport terminal, which general aviation does not use. Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 3:58

Because the travelers are flying without the card holder/payee and traveling from a third world country, you may be safest to have a travel agent do the booking and ticketing. Tickets issued by a IATA/ARC appointed travel agency are automatically considered form of payment verified.

Depending on when they are flying, you could also mail them a copy of the travel agency's printout, as that would carry more official weight than a print out of an email.

Boarding passes will be issued only when they check in, either online (depending if the airline offers that) or at the airport.

Their seat selection maybe be possible to do online after ticketing depending on the airline and fare class you book. The travel agent may also be able to pre-request seats for them during the booking process.

If you are a "gotta do everything online" type, then the first step is to look up potential flights to see which airlines are involved. Then contact the airline (or look up online) to see what their form of payment and 3rd person booking policies are BEFORE booking anything. Don't wait until after you booked to check this as Henning Makholm suggested above.

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