A Mississauga woman learned the hard way that a middle name isn’t something to forget when flying after Wow Airlines denied her boarding because the name on her ticket didn’t match the one on her passport.
Ashley Collins said she arrived at Pearson airport Sunday with a friend to fly to Iceland via Wow airlines with tickets purchased in January. She says she was able to check in, get her luggage tags, but it wasn’t until she went up the counter that she was told she wasn’t able to fly.
“Once we got to the front, the lady said to her supervisor, ‘It’s another one,’” Collins said. “She handed me my passport and said I was missing the middle name on the ticket so I was denied boarding the flight.”
Collins said she was told 11 others were denied boarding on the flight the previous day for the same reason. She was then given a customer service number to call. A Wow Airlines agent informed her there was little she could do because they cannot change a name on a ticket less than four hours prior to a flight.
“We were really looking forward to this trip,” she said. “We had no options at that point.”
Collins ended up paying for a new flight the next day out of Pearson, at a price more than what she paid for round-trip flight.
Transport Canada said under the Secure Air Travel Regulations, airlines are required to check that the name on a passenger’s document matches the name on his or her ticket or boarding pass.
“We encourage all passengers to use the names as they appear on the official identification they will use when travelling,” said spokeswoman Marie-Anyk Côté. “This will minimize delays at check-in or at the boarding gate.”
Airlines may have specific policies for names on tickets, she added.
Gabor Forgacs, from Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management says the issue of identification can be a common and costly problem for airlines.
In 2016, 60,000 passengers were not admitted into a country of arrival. Airlines are then fined up to $4,000 per passenger and forced to cover the costs of returning the passenger to their country of origin.
“Airlines learned to be very careful because they can be in a lot of trouble for not complying with the regulations that require the names of the passenger to match the names of the travel documentation,” Forgacs said.
However, he did point out that not all airlines require middle names, although it is more frequently asked for on international flights.
A spokesperson for WestJet told CityNews its reservation system does not require middle names when booking and therefore, it is not required for travel.
Collins said Wow Airlines also charged her $23 for changing her name on her return ticket.
“I just advise everyone to make sure you put your middle name (on your ticket) whether the airlines require it or not because you don’t want to run into a situation like I did,” she said.
Wow Airlines did not respond to a request for comment.