Can You Transfer Your Airline Ticket to Another Person

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you couldn’t use your flight ticket and wanted to give it to a family member or friend to use instead? This is a common enough occurrence – plans change, work conflicts come up, injuries or illnesses happen. But most major U.S. airlines don’t allow you to simply transfer your ticket over to another person, even if you can’t fly. Why is that the case? And are there any options if you want to give your ticket to someone else? Let’s discuss the ins and outs of airline ticket transfers.

What Does It Mean for a Flight Ticket To Be “Transferable”?

A transferable airline ticket refers to a ticket that allows the passenger name to be changed for a fee, enabling someone else to fly instead of you. Airlines vary widely on their specific policies, but some – especially international or low-cost carriers – offer transferable tickets. These allow you to essentially give away your ticket to another person if needed.

However, most larger U.S. airlines like American, Delta, and United do not have transferable tickets. Their tickets cannot have the passenger name changed. So if you run into an issue and can no longer take the flight you booked, you generally can’t give the ticket directly over to someone else. The ticket stays in your name.

This brings up a logical question – why don’t more airlines allow ticket transfers or name changes? There’s a few key reasons driving this policy.

Why Don’t Airlines Allow Ticket Name Changes?

Airlines commonly cite a few primary reasons for not allowing flight tickets to be freely transferred or changed into another person’s name:

  • Security: Airlines want to ensure the person traveling matches government-issued ID to comply with security screening processes. Allowing name changes could create mismatches.
  • Preventing Fraud: Freely changeable tickets could enable questionable reselling activity or other fraudulent behavior, which airlines want to limit.
  • Revenue Management: Airlines use complex pricing algorithms to maximize revenue and profits. Transferrable tickets disrupt this because pricing varies based on demand.
  • Customer Service: Airlines want to provide service to the person who actually purchased the ticket rather than an unknown third party.

Essentially airlines want control and consistency around who flies with purchased tickets in order to maximize revenue opportunities and limit risks. Changing passenger names frequently can make that difficult.

However, airlines certainly do allow some flexibility in certain circumstances for changing travel plans – just not necessarily directly transferring a ticket’s name.

When Could an Airline Ticket Potentially Be Transferred?

While outright name changes on tickets aren’t widely allowed, there are some limited cases where in effect you could transfer an airline ticket:

  • Group Travel: On some group or family travel bookings, airlines may allow you to change out the name for another person also on the reservation. Restrictions apply.
  • Immediate Cancellations: A very small window like 24 hours where you can get a full refund and then rebook.
  • Bereavement Policies: Special airline exceptions for losses in your immediate family may allow reservations to be modified.
  • Minor Name Corrections: Most airlines allow minor name spelling fixes or surname changes from life events like marriage.

Additionally, policies can vary drastically depending on whether it’s a domestic economy class ticket versus an international business class ticket. More expensive fares sometimes allow more flexibility.

But in general, for an average airline ticket, you likely can’t simply give it away to another person if you don’t end up traveling. A few airlines provide exceptions to this norm though.

Which Airlines Allow You To Transfer Tickets?

While major U.S. airlines generally prohibit directly transferring flight tickets to someone else, a few carriers actually do permit name changes or passenger transfers – typically for a transfer fee:

  • Frontier Airlines: Allows name changes on domestic bookings for a $75 processing fee. Can transfer to another person.
  • Ryanair (Europe): Permits passenger name changes up to 2.5 hours before departure for a fee based on timing, usually around £115-£160 pounds.
  • easyJet (Europe): Changes names for a fee of  49-55 euros depending on method. Can transfer a booking.
  • Vueling (Europe): Free name transfer within 24 hours, 50 EUR after that per passenger.

Many low-cost carriers serving Europe allow some form of airline ticket transfer or name change, typically for fees lower than buying a whole new ticket.

What Are Your Options If You Can’t Directly Transfer Your Ticket?

Given that most major airlines prohibit directly transferring flight tickets from your name to someone else’s name, what options do you actually have if plans go awry and you can’t take your trip? Here are some alternatives:

  • Simply let the ticket value expire unused – this is usually the worst option but requires no additional effort.
  • Change the travel dates or flight times instead – airlines allow this for varying fees and fare differences (can be pricey).
  • Get a travel voucher/credit for future travel by canceling the flight – you typically pay a cancellation penalty fee deducted from credit amount.
  • Buy a separate ticket for the other person – essentially eating your original ticket cost unless the airline provides vouchers or future flight credits.
  • Explore exceptions – a small chance you qualify for a bereavement policy, military leave policy or other airline exception allowing changes.

As you can see, most options involve additional fees, expired ticket value or buying new tickets. That leads to an important tip when initially booking travel.

Read Airline Ticket Policies Carefully Before Booking

Because directly transferring flight tickets to another passenger name is rarely allowed, it’s incredibly important to understand an airline’s change, cancellation and transfer policies before purchasing tickets. This allows you to select the best airline and flight option for your situation in case plans shift later on.

Be sure to carefully check:

  • If the ticket is marked as “non-transferrable” or “non-refundable”
  • Name change and passenger transfer policies
  • Change, cancellation and refund policies
  • Expiration terms if value is unused
  • Transfer and assignment language in terms and conditions

Having this information upfront provides important context on what flexibility you actually have if something comes up and you can no longer take the trip as planned. You’ll understand exactly what options are available in terms of giving away or transferring flight tickets.

Key Takeaways – Can You Give Your Airline Ticket To Another Person?

To recap the key themes around transferring flight tickets:

  • Most major U.S. airlines prohibit directly changing the passenger name on a purchased ticket
  • Reasons relate to security, preventing fraud, revenue management, and customer service
  • A small number of low-cost carriers do allow transfers for a processing fee
  • International budget airlines tend to have more flexible policies on ticket changes
  • If transfers aren’t possible, options include changing dates, vouchers credits or letting ticket expire
  • Carefully read airline ticket terms when booking flights to understand your rights around ticket changes

While giving away your airline ticket is convenient in theory, it is rarely possible with most airlines today unless you booked with a lower-cost carrier and don’t mind paying fees. But if you understand the transfer and name change policies upfront before purchasing tickets, at least you know what your options could be if plans shift.

Does this help summarize the key questions and answers around giving your flight ticket to another person? Let me know if you have any other questions!

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