My family and I have traveled quite a bit together and we all handle it pretty well. We have been traveling with them since the first one was born and now we have 4 so we have our little systems down and everything seems to go ok (most of the time!).
Problems with Airlines and Same Names
But, a few times, we have had an issue with certain airlines when my son and I are on the same reservation. The problem stems from him being the IV and me being the III as far as suffixes go. I understand that other countries do not have that sort of thing and the suffixes are not my problem with this situation.
Birthdates Do Not Solve the Problem
What is the problem is that even when we have our birthdates in the system (obviously very different) and different frequent flyer numbers, the system cannot fathom that we are still two different people. How efficient is this when our secure flight data does not process in the system that we are different people?
The Recent Problem
It has been a couple of years since this happened (last time was with Turkish) but now it has happened again – and it is a bit of a pain. I was making a quick trip and thought it would be fun to have my oldest son come along with me. So, I booked our tickets and we were good to go! Except, no, we weren’t. When I went to check in online, the Air Berlin website told me that there was an error and it would have to be handled at the airport. It also said NOVALIDTICKETS. Not the sort of thing you want to see!
Phone Calls, Airport Visits, More Phone Calls
I called the booking carrier (I used my AA miles for the trip) and they were great as they made some calls and tried to get it sorted out. However, in the end, no solution. The only solution available was to split our record but the system would not let them do that because my son is a minor.
So, that left us with the only remaining option – to check-in at the airport. Being that it only takes us 2 minutes to get through the security and to our gate, I was really enjoying the fact that we could stay at home for as long as possible since we had a busy day. Instead, we had to be at the airport when check-in opened to get it sorted out (2 hours before the flight) – on the outbound and the return.
Some of the possible solutions given have been:
- Add the suffix to the last name (it would be a problem when using our Global Entry and is sometimes a problem with TSA) – except if we use frequent flyer numbers, it does not let us change
- Book separate reservations (I would have to pay a fee for the traveling minor and/or the airline would not allow it)
- Add a middle initial to one and not the other (I have done this and it does not work)
- Just keep getting to the airport early! Not really a solution but what has to be done!
Both times I was at the airport to deal with, it involved about 30 minutes or so at the counter while the agent was on the phone. Not ideal for sure! At least I know that it is an involved situation and I need to allow time. Since it is something that gets fixed on the phone, I just wish that same fix would apply initially!
This appears to mostly be a problem with international airlines. It is not common to have the same names with Sr. Jr. and so on in many countries so the problem will mostly will mostly be with the international airlines (though I did have to make a change on a name with Delta to book an international ticket with them).
So far, I have had this problem with Turkish, Aegean, Air Berlin, and Delta (for international travel). Flying on United, American, Southwest, JetBlue, Delta (dometic), and Lufthansa has not presented a problem.
Dealing with the Problem
If you have the same names in your family and will be flying, just make sure you check your reservation. The problem pops up when you go to check-in so you will have enough notice in advance so that you get to the airport early. If you are booking an international trip, it may be helpful to make sure you select a departing flight that leaves you with plenty of time to get to the airport earlier than normal.
It appears that they cannot do anything about these issues over the phone, only in person at the airport. Both times, the agents were not able to do anything initially and had to send me to customer service. Just realize that it will take some time and they will need to make some calls and it should be ok.
Have you had this happen because of the same names? What airlines did this happen with?