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passport boarding pass money travelForget what you learned in high school English. A rose by any other name would not smell as sweet — at least when it comes to air travel, as an IndependentTraveler.com reader recently learned. She wrote to us with the following flight-booking conundrum:

“I recently renewed my driver’s license. I only use my middle and last name, and my former license was issued with the middle and last name only. When I renewed, they said I had to use my first, middle and last name but I could sign it using my middle and last name. Confusing, isn’t it? I am now wondering if I can use just my middle and last name on my airline ticket as I always have since that is the way I signed my license, or do I have to put the full name as it appears on my license?”

A few years ago, it might not have mattered which name our reader used to book her ticket — but times have changed. Last year the TSA launched its Secure Flight Program, which requires travelers to book airline tickets using the exact same name that appears on the ID they’ll use when they fly. Travelers must also provide their birthdate and gender when booking. By combining all of this information, the TSA hopes to minimize the number of people who are mistaken for travelers with similar names on the no-fly list.

What this means for our reader, of course, is that she must purchase her ticket under her full name — first name included — to match what’s on her driver’s license, assuming that her license is the ID she’ll be using at the airport. If she’s flying internationally, she should book with the name that appears on her passport.

If you have a driver’s license showing your middle initial and a passport showing your full middle name, book your domestic and international flights accordingly. The TSA has promised some flexibility with small discrepancies like these, but really, who wants to take the chance?

For more information, see TSA’s Secure Flight Program: What It Means for You.

– written by Sarah Schlichter

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