a passport and a ticket on a table
30413102 - airline ticket, passport and electronics, preparing to travel

Who got to decide how many letters are appropriate?

The world of travel is always full of mystery. With increasingly severe weather, oversold flights and customer service issues galore, there are a plethora of reasons why a traveler may find their trip cancelled, but today’s reason should easily rank amongst the very dumbest of them all. A UK traveler booked a trip that borders mundane, from London to Amsterdam, paid for their ticket, went to sleep and woke up to find the trip cancelled. Why? Because their name was “too long”…

a white and blue airplane in the skyJanahan Krishnamoorthy

Is this the longest and wildest name ever conceived? Absolutely not. Is it apparently too long to book an e-ticket with quite a few airlines – yes, yes it is. Janahan booked a ticket on Opodo.com for travel on FlyBe, a popular European airline. Opodo.com took Janahan’s money, sent an email confirmation and things appeared routine, until he was contacted to say names on his booking were too long. He then proceeded to try again, directly with FlyBe, only to find that their website also limits allowed characters and was unable to complete a booking. After much wasted time, he contacted the airline by phone and was able to successfully make a booking. FlyBe is far from the only airline…

Some Airlines Limit Characters

By characters, we of course mean letters in a name, and not amateur comedians. Airlines such as Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, FlyBe and many more are known to limit the characters allowed for a ticket, forcing customers to call in to book tickets. Of course, customers only come to learn this after their booking has failed multiple times, or they’ve completed a purchase, only to have their reservations cancelled hours or days later, wasting even more hours of the day. If certain customers are unable to book tickets online solely on account of their name, is this customer discrimination? What about people with double barrel names, or two first names? It’s (plane) crazy.

a passport and a ticket on a wallet

Matching Names Matters

In a time where security is far from a laughing matter, governments, airlines and security forces scrutinize name matches between acceptable forms of ID and the name on a ticket with extra care. Forcing passengers to decide between putting their full, accurate name which matches their government issued ID, or not being able to book online, seems downright ludicrous.

Resolved Over The Phone

In 2018, picking up the phone to book a simple plane ticket seems crazy. In addition, with many airlines attempting to charge customers for phone bookings, some passengers could be unfairly penalized for being born with long names or getting married and amending theirs. There’s no question that this tends to effect some cultures around the world more than others, which sends a terrible message in a time where equality for all passengers should be a minimal standard. Who gets to decide how many letters are appropriate for a passengers name?

What do you make of this melee?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. You have Daniel Boone’s cousin, Squire Heath Manley Marquis De LaFayette Greene Jennings Tipton Boone, rolling over in his grave. Good thing he died in January 1903 and missed seeing the December 1903 Wright brother’s flight that eventually lead to this transportation reservation fiasco. Word is back in New Cambria, Macon County, Missouri that he never had any long name issues when making a reservation with Hertz Rent-a-Horse.

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