Flight Tickets: Middle Names, Double-Barrelled Surnames, Apostrophe’s and Hyphens – What You Need to Know

Booking an overseas flight ticket to your dream holiday destination should be an exciting prospect, but as many tickets are non-changeable, non-refundable, and non-cancellable, it can be nerve-wracking when clicking the ‘book now’ button.

Long Haul Flights

If you accidentally select the wrong travel date, enter the incorrect airport code, or misspell your name, you may have to pay a hefty sum, up to 100% of the ticket price, to get it fixed, and so it is essential that you double-check all the details entered before clicking the button of no return, or better still, pass the responsibility on to your travel agent who will take care of everything for you!

Using Middle Names on Flight Tickets

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the use of middle names on flight tickets, and the airlines are to blame! When booking your ticket online, most flight booking engines request that you “enter all details exactly as per your passport” and so if your name is David Steven Jones, one would think that one should enter all names… but this is not necessarily so.

Today, many international airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic only require your first name and surname to confirm your ticket, and so you can leave your middle name out altogether.  But as this is not stated at the time of booking, many people feel they should enter both their first name and middle name(s) as they appear in their passport, and then the dreaded happens…! Mr David Steven Jones becomes Jones/Davidsteven Mr and the panic begins!

But worry not. Airline booking systems do not recognise spaces, hyphens or apostrophes, and so if you enter a space between your first name and middle name, it will automatically link them both together to form one word.  Check-in agents are used to this, and can just as easily identify David Steven as they can Davidsteven, and you will not have any problems boarding your flight.

Booking Flight Tickets with a Double-Barrelled Surname

The same applies to double-barrelled surnames and those with an apostrophe such as O’Connor.  The airline booking system will not recognise the hyphen or the apostrophe, and so Mrs Sarah Porter-Jones will become Porterjones/Sarah Mrs on her flight tickets and boarding cards, and Mr Michael O’Connor will become Oconnor/Michael Mr.

Providing there are no spelling mistakes or errors in passport number, date of birth, or nationality, you will not have a problem with any of the above, but if you are worried about being turned away at the airport, simply give the airline a call and let them put your mind at rest.

As the only girl after a long line of brothers, my parents got carried away with middle names, and so I only ever book my flight tickets with my first name and last name… and I’ve managed to visit 53 countries so far without a single problem… so don’t worry!

Book, Travel and Enjoy! The world is waiting for you!







4 Comments Add yours

  1. Dillon Li says:

    Help! We are so worried right now with our trip coming up in a couple of days. I had booked my wife’s ticket without her middle name or second surname. As an example, her name on her passport is like this Jane Doe Smith-Wilson. On her ticket it will just be Jane Smith. Will this be an issue? We are flying from US LAX to Japan NRT.

    1. Equatours says:

      Hi Dillon, thank you for your message! You should contact your travel agent, or if you booked direct, the airline asap. The middle name will not be an issue, but as far as I am aware, both surnames should show on the ticket. Let us know how you get on!

  2. JMVW says:

    Hi, I have a similar question. My girlfriend has a hyphenated first name (xxx-yyy-zzz), but I’ve booked ticket some time ago and recently found out that I’ve only used the first part of her first name. We’ve travelled within Europe with the same information on our tickets, and this was never a problem. However, our next trip is to Vietnam with a stopover in Dubai (both ways) and I’m worried it -will- become a problem.

    Information on the internet is limited, but seems pretty comforting, just like this article. I have two middle names, no hyphens, and only ever used my first name without any sort of troubles, which is why I didn’t think about it when booking. Will the hyphen screw us over, or is it not that bad? Changing the ticket could cost upwards of €1000,- so I’m in a bit of a bind.

    Thanks in advance for your advice!

    1. Equatours says:

      Hi there, thank you for contacting us! I’m glad you found our blog helpful.
      If I were you, I would contact the airline directly to ask their advice as Vietnam can be tricky (for example, with Vietnam Airlines, you have to show the credit card used to make the booking when you check in for your flight, which is a nightmare if you used someone else’s card!).
      However, I’m guessing you’ve booked with Emirates if you are transiting Dubai. If both parts of your girlfriends first name are showing on her passport, then ideally, both names should show on the ticket (without the hyphen), but it may not be an issue. In most instance the airline will just make a note in the PNR (passenger name record) in their reservation system, so the person checking you in will know that the names do not quite match.
      Just give the airline a quick call, Emirates are really helpful, and I’m sure they will put your mind at rest. Happy Travels!

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