Mike Sholl of St. Anthony recently took a trip to Italy and Greece and wrote to share information about his airline.
He and his family flew with the Italian carrier Blue Panorama from Rome to the Greek island of Santorini, and had to pay an extra fee when the airline insisted they all add their middle name to the tickets. The fee came to 234 euros.
When he booked, the airline offered no way to include middle names. (A recent search of the Blue Panorama website showed that the airline now encourages you to input both first and middle names in the first-name field.)
On Skytrax, an airline and airport review website, numerous people recounted similar experiences. One from the United States noted that "every American aboard the plane I asked" had to pay the fee.
"How are these robbers allowed to operate?" seethes a flier from Ireland. Reviews are filled with phrases like "scam," "extortionist practices" and "defrauding passengers."
"Since when is a middle name legally mandatory?" asked a reviewer.
On a boarding pass? Never. But fliers should do what they can to make a boarding pass match official identification.
The Transportation Security Administration has no jurisdiction on flights unless they depart or land in the U.S. But its advice in this realm is sound: Contact your airline to determine the best way to make a reservation if your full name doesn't match up with the airline's system, including two middle or last names or suffixes such as Jr. or III. "We understand that boarding passes may not always display the exact name that you provided when booking travel and will vary based on the airline's capability and character limits. While you should strive for consistency, small differences between the name on your ID and boarding pass should not affect your travel," they replied to my online query.
If only Blue Panorama had been as understanding as TSA.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.