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TSA's “Secure Flight” passport/ticket name discrepancy problem

TSA's “Secure Flight” passport/ticket name discrepancy problem

Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 08:48 PM
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TSA's “Secure Flight” passport/ticket name discrepancy problem

Sorry in advance for the length of this post, but I want to be sure to give all the particulars.

I just booked a New Year's trip to Paris for 8 ladies who have hired me to be a travel organizer and private guide. Due to this TSA "program" set to begin in November, the booking agent insisted on having the tickets issued with first, middle and last names, so I therefore instructed the ladies to have their passports issued with all three names as well.

One of the group went to the post office for her passport application/filing, and the clerk told her she needed to list her name on the passport as it appeared on her driver's license which is first name, middle initial and last name. I pulled up the form for first time applicants and with my own eyes, I can see that the form clearly states FIRST and MIDDLE names in one box with a separate box for LAST.

When I found out, I told her that would not match the ticket, so she called the passport agency and they told her they would use her middle name rather than just initial. Well, her passport arrived today, and you guessed it, it was issued with middle initial only. Needless to say, she is about to freak, especially since the passport office is telling her it is not a LAW to put your full middle name on a passport.

She called the airline, and they've told her she probably won't have any trouble leaving the country but might have trouble getting back in. She is not willing to pay a change fee to have the ticket reissued in the name on the passport. The travel agent tells me as long as the middle name is on the ticket and the initial on the passport matches that there won't be a problem.

Does anybody have any definitive info on this situation? Any insight? Thanks.
crepes_a_go_go is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2010, 09:40 AM
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Here's the TSA website for Secure Flight

They say differences such as the one you describe are not critical.

If the name printed on my boarding pass is different than what appears on my government ID, will I still be able to fly?

Secure Flight is a behind-the-scenes process that TSA and airlines collaborate on to compare the information you provide against government watch lists. The additional data elements that you may be asked to provide, such as date of birth and gender, serve to better differentiate you from individuals on the government watch lists.

Due to differences in boarding pass systems, boarding passes may not always display the exact name you provided when booking your travel. The name you provide when booking your travel is used to perform the watch list matching before a boarding pass is ever issued, so small differences between the passenger's ID and the passenger name printed on the boarding pass, such as the use of a middle initial instead of a full middle name or no middle name/initial at all, or hyphens and apostrophes should not cause a problem for the passenger.
J62 is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2010, 07:47 PM
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This seems strange. You have to have a birth certificate for a passport, not a driver's license.
Lynnaustin is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2010, 11:57 AM
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This doesn't make sense to me either. A person can obtain a US Passport even when they do not have a US driver's license. One's birth certificate is mandatory of course.

Having said that I would have waited until I received the passport before having the airline ticket issued.
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2010, 01:54 PM
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Yes to Lynn and Italy, I said the very same thing - people without driver's licenses get passports everyday.

Couldn't wait six weeks for a passport to book airline tickets/hotel package. I've purchased travel packages numerous times for travelers who didn't have a passport at the time of booking. My heartburn is with the postal clerk who took it upon herself to advise this lady to go with a middle initial instead of simply completing the application as it was written with first and middle names.

J62, I had read the TSA website but not the exact link you provided. Thank you for that. I agree that in the early stages of this thing, slight discrepancies will not be a problem, probably just more of an inconvenience.

I am providing my traveler with all this info and suggesting she just take along her birth certificate and driver's license as backup. I really believe that will be sufficient.

Thanks to all and if anyone has any further thoughts, please post. Fodorites are the best!
crepes_a_go_go is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2010, 07:38 PM
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My experience has been that this information is input ahead of time on the airlines website.
Actually this summer we traveled to Mexico and took a friend of my son's. I had booked all of the tickets and input the information. The friend has a long Greek first and last name. I misspelled the first name and didn't even realize it. My son saw me type it in and called it to my attention. I got side-tracked and never did correct it. No one said a thing.

I would venture that there are thousands of Americans traveling with middle initials instead of names and I can't imagine this being a problem. The passport number is also input and they probably rely more on that.
Lynnaustin is offline  
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