Does My Boarding Pass Have to Have My Middle Initial?

In the wake of the 9/11 attack, identification and security checks for airline passengers have been vigorously and strictly enforced. All international passengers are required to present a valid passport and domestic travellers over age 18 must carry government-issued photo identification. The process of screening passengers begins when you make your reservation. At the airport, you must provide identification as many as five times before boarding the flight. Since security officers often review your airline-generated boarding pass and your ID together, it's always best if the name on your reservation matches your name as it appears on your government-issued ID. Small differences, however, such as middle initials, are generally not a problem.

TSA Mandates

By law, all airlines request your full name, date of birth and gender when you make your reservation. This information is shared with the Transportation Safety Administration before your scheduled departure. This became standard procedure after the TSA assumed the responsibility for comparing passenger information with federal watch lists of known and suspected terrorists. If you do not comply, your reservation can be cancelled. It is your responsibility to provide your name as it appears on the identification you plan to present at the airport. This name, however, need not be an exact match for the name on your ticket or boarding pass.

Boarding Passes

Boarding passes are issued by the airline during the check-in process at the counter, the kiosk or online. Boarding passes identify the passenger by name, flight number, gate number, date and time of departure. They are presented at security check points and at the flight departure gate. The name on the boarding pass reflects the name given when the ticket reservation was made.

Name Policy

On the TSA website, the agency states it is aware that some airline boarding pass systems may not display the exact name provided when travel was booked. In addition, the website states, "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 or initial at all, or hyphens and apostrophes, should not cause a problem for the passenger."


If your boarding pass has been issued with a minor error, typo or misspelling, contact the airline directly prior to flight departure. Explain the problem to the agent. If the error is not major, she may just note the correction on your record. If the error is such that a new ticket has to be issued, however, the airline may access fees and penalties.

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About the Author

Linda Horton has been a professional journalist since 1978. She is a former reporter for "Newsday" and "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," where she was also a copy editor. Horton has been involved in the travel industry since 1994, primarily in retail travel. She studied English and journalism at Hofstra University.