Passport Perturbation

It’s summer, so amid vacations and home-improvement projects, blogging has taken a step back. That doesn’t mean learning does. In fact, I discovered a very important lesson right at the start of my two-week holiday.

My husband and I took our first trip to Europe together, and on a rainy April morning drove to his mom’s house to drop off our dog and have her take us to the airport. She made sure we’re all packed, looked at Stephen’s new passport and my Bulgarian one. While examining our printed ticket confirmations, she said: “You know, I don’t know if you can fly with this – your passport shows your maiden name and your ticket has your married one.”

Boy, was she right.

Two hours on the dot prior to our flight, we walked up to the check-in counter and started typing in our confirmation number. My husband got everything on the first try; we weighed his bag, put on the tags and he was ready to board. After scanning my passport twice and the system not letting us through, a nice US Airways employee came to help us, typed various things on his computer but nothing worked. He gave me the Lufthansa phone number (United just operated one of the legs of our flight) and said that when there’s a name issue with one of their tickets, they can just change it in the system. To save money, (as I believe many do) we booked online through a website agency. Because we didn’t go through the airline, the ticket could not be adjusted. So, 40 minutes before our flight, I was ticket-less, sitting on the floor balling, having not seen my family in five years and my husband checked in to visit them alone. The greatest irony of all – changing my expiring-in-May passport was the main reason for visiting Bulgaria in April. Basically, I will hold a passport with my married name on the flight back.

The most frustrating factor for me as a Lufthansa fan – I am a Lufthansa Miles & More member (a frequent flyer program) and they have copies of my marriage certificate on file because I changed my name with them as well. I will never understand why there wasn’t a way to make an exception for the outgoing flight.

Long story short, we ended up having to spend another $1,500 for a new ticket without being able to get a refund on the old one, had to get a stamped, translated document from Bulgaria stating that I am the same person with my married or maiden name and I ended up flying with two passports on the way back.


Now, this may not be anyone’s case ever, but note this if you are undergoing a name change – whatever ID you plan to travel with, has to list the same name as your ticket. If you go anywhere internationally, that must be your passport –  everything from my green card to my BestBuy card in my wallet has my married name on it, but I was not going to be allowed to fly if my passport didn’t match. Expensive lesson – don’t learn it on your own.