Flying Soon? Check That Middle Name

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Many of us are not fond of using our middle names in our daily transactions. Check your middle name on your passport and driver’s license. Is it there? If it is, remember to include it every time you fly within the US and to other countries. This is a new requirement that a lot of travelers, even airline companies, remain unaware of.

This new requirement, which came from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), endeavors to avoid confusion and hassle at the airport for all parties concerned: passengers, airlines, and the TSA. The TSA’s list of persons of questionable character contains full names. As such, when verifying passenger identities when boarding a flight, the TSA wants passengers to present travel documents that bear their full names.

The requirement for middle names in passports has been in place since May 15 for domestic travel. For overseas travel, the TSA expects this rule to be implemented by December.

Passengers normally surrender their passport or driver’s license during security checks. Under the new rule, the first name, middle name (if any), and last name on your passport or driver’s license should exactly match the names on your ticket and boarding pass. This means that when you make flight reservations, you should provide the name written on your passport or identification card.

Some people have their names written in different ways in different documents for various reasons, such as marriage, separation, or other changes in legal status. You should have this fixed before taking a trip to avoid trouble with the authorities. Some registrations related to travel (e.g., frequent flyer programs) do not include the full names of members in their databases. You may want to reregister to include any middle names in your passport. Make sure that your full name appears on your ticket and boarding pass. The most troubling possibility is having to change one or more of your credit/debit cards. Airport terminals usually check the cards you used to purchase tickets through an online agent. If your passport and card names do not match, you may encounter problems.

So far, things have gone well since the implementation of this new rule. Some airline representatives say that although they collect passenger full names, they are unsure whether they will use full names on tickets and boarding passes. This does not comply with TSA requirements. However, airline companies have already assured the traveling public that they will notify frequent flyers once the need for full-name-ticketing arises. The TSA has also announced that they will give consideration to minor discrepancies in middle names in passports, tickets, and IDs.

Despite these uncertainties, you should take this report as a reminder to be meticulous with your travel documents, particularly about including your middle name on your passport. This will help you avoid unnecessary delays on future trips.

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