Do you really know your name?

Honestly? No tricks here – do you really know your name? I have to ask because as you probably know getting your name right on an airline ticket is pretty important. So important that if it is not correct then you might not get on the flight.

Airlines require that your air ticket matches your name as per your passport or if you are travelling within Canada it should at least match your Government issued ID which for most people is a drivers licence.

And this is where the whole thing starts to get ugly because there are so many definitions of what you should or should not have on your airline ticket. First of all let’s talk about hyphens. Many people have a double-barrelled surname like Andrew Lloyd Webber or Helena Bonham Carter. However airline tickets don’t recognise the hyphen so the name gets all stuck together and comes out as ANDREW LLOYDWEBBER. Sometimes this will alarm the novice traveller but what can you do? The airlines make the rules and if you split up the names on a ticket reservation then it ends up looking like Lloyd is his middle name – which is wrong.

But wait a minute I hear you yell….. there are no hyphens there. Yes that is true. Some people with multiple surnames choose not to display the hyphen so it really gets confusing …. as per Wiki

” Many double-barrelled names are written without a hyphen, which can cause confusion as to whether the surname is double-barrelled or not. Notable persons with unhyphenated double-barrelled names include prime minister David Lloyd George, the composers Ralph Vaughan Williams and Andrew Lloyd Webber, historian Basil Liddell Hart, astronomer Robert Hanbury Brown, actresses Kristin Scott Thomas and Helena Bonham Carter (although she has said the hyphen is optional),[2] comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (however, his cousin, the clinical psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen, opted for the hyphen) and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies. “

Did you know that some people even have triple barrelled names! Oh my goodness. Wikipedia tells us that these people often revert to just a double barrelled name for convenience – no kidding –  

“For example, actress Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe goes by Isabella Calthorpe and her half-sister Gabriella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe is known by her stage name Gabriella Wilde. “

And I am not even going to talk about the people with more than that. All we want to do is make sure that we don’t get denied boarding on a flight because our name on our passport does not match the name on the airline ticket.

Now airlines have to do their due diligence but they are somewhat flexible if there is a typo say of one letter or maybe two – but one never likes to leave things to chance because you really don’t know who you might get at the check in desk. Best to follow the rules all the way.

I have seen some strange passports – a couple a few years back each had 2 initials at the beginning of their names in their passports and then a middle name which they used and their last name. So if a person’s name was John James Richard Smith it would be shown as J. J. Richard Smth on the passport. I really don’t understand how that happens as you have to produce your birth certificate at the passport office so why???? No wonder the check in agents can get antsy about names and passports.

Maybe it all goes back to the parents when they name a child. Does this child really need as many names as British royalty? First middle and last should be sufficient. Just thinking ahead to when that small baby turns into a long haired backpacker heading off to Thailand you just don’t want him having any trouble along the way.

As Juliet put it so succintly (or Shakespear should I say) –

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. I can completely relate to this! My first husband had a hyphenated name that had been in the family for centuries (the story goes that an aristocratic lady married quite beneath her therefore her name was carried on). The problem was that the name (Edwards-Jones) was so close to a company (Edward Jones the financial company) that it confused everyone (are we a family? or a business?). I have since remarried and now have a simple one word last name. Such a breeze when flying! Well, that is as long as I remember to right down my proper first name Susan (as on my passport) and not Sue (the name everyone calls me). 😉


  2. Yes, the name game! When my husband was born his parents decided to call him by the “second” name they had given him. Why?? As he got older and out on his own, this started to become quite a problem as he made his way thru life (just think of all the times you’ve had to give someone your name!). What is your REAL name? He’s had documents screwed up, cheques made out in wrong name that he couldn’t cash, and mail not arriving …… list goes on. And, yes, he double checks to make sure his name is in the correct order on that airline ticket!


    1. Not to mention the business of correcting a misspelled name after the ticket has been booked. :(. It was a very stressful affair that the airline wouldn’t let us officially fix until 24 hours before flying. I had to go to the airport to make sure all was corrected and was back the next day for the journey. Add in them marking my fathers gender as female even having a very male first and middle name. It made for a hectic start to our adventure.


      1. oh Terri what a royal pain that must have been! And that is another thing they are going to have to change is the whole Mr Mrs Ms thing. What is the point of that – seems a bit old fashioned in these days


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