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Buying an airline ticket for someone else

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by KCC, Dec 24, 2010.

  1. KCC

    KCC Well-Known Member

    My husband bought a United Airline ticket online (from the United website) for his son, who lives in another state, to visit with us over Christmas. When my step-son checked in at the airport today, United did not want to accept that ticket unless he could produce his father's credit card. They instead wanted him to buy another ticket, using another credit card (he only has a debit card and does not have enough for a same-day ticket in his account). After a lot of arguing and "I need to talk to your manager" stuff, they finally let him use the original ticket.

    United said this was a long-standing policy to prevent fraud. We have bought tickets online for our son/step-son for years and never had any problems. In fact, I bought a separate United ticket online for my mom to travel from PA to CA, and she was not asked to produce my credit card when she checked in for the outgoing flight a few days ago.

    Has anyone else encountered issues with buying a plane ticket for someone else? Is this the case for other airlines? Perhaps there are more kids stealing their parents' credit cards to buy an airline ticket and skipping out without their parents knowing? This can be a big issue for the many parents who routinely buy tickets for their kids. And it just seems weird that they start enforcing the rules over the holiday season.
  2. judiz

    judiz Well-Known Member

    My mom in Florida bought three tickets to send her grandsons to Florida. My mom mailed me the e-ticket and this morning I drove the boys to the airport and watched them go through security with no problems. I think your stepson ran into someone who was just being picky.
  3. Spareoom

    Spareoom Well-Known Member

    That is strange. Two years ago some friends bought me a ticket using their miles and I had no problem using it whatsoever.

    It would be interesting to find out what the exact policy is from corporate. Working in retail has taught me that often not even the store manager will know the official policy inside and out, and sometimes a call to corporate can clear up so many questions and misunderstandings. I highly doubt that if you called United corporate, they would tell you that it is their policy to require credit card checks on tickets.
  4. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Holding Alex Johnson's Pineapple

    My mom has bought tickets for my sister and I quite frequently and we've never had any problems.

  5. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    My mom just bought me a ticket a month ago. It shouldn't matter who pays for it - only that the name on the ticket is the same as the person trying to get on the plane.

    Did your stepson have the boarding pass already? My mom entered my email address as the one for all communication about my ticket, so the boarding pass was sent to me to print out. I can maybe see if son didn't have any actual ticket until he went to the counter...but it still shouldn't be a problem as long as his name was on the ticket.
  6. meggonzo

    meggonzo Well-Known Member

    It shouldn't be a problem as long as the name on the ticket matches your photo ID. If they are going to be such asshats about it, they shouldn't let you put someone else's name on the ticket if it doesn't match the name on the credit card.
  7. LisaS

    LisaS Member

    I booked a ticket for my boyfriend on Sunwing (Canadian Charter plane). I had to fill out a form, sign it, scan it and email it back to them since he wouldn't have my credit card at the counter.
  8. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

    If the traveler prints out a boarding pass online the day before the trip, and then goes to the web checkin line at the airport, he/she simply uses the electronic kiosk to check in luggage, where he/she is asked for a photo ID plus the boarding pass. That's all. You are not asked for the credit card that purchased the ticket. And if he/she has no luggage to check, then he/she just goes through the security checkpoint with the photo ID and boarding pass.

    There must be something more to your story that got the gate agent asking for the credit card. My daughter travels a few times a year to do skating shows where the ticket was purchased by a third party, and she never has any trouble.
  9. sk8pics

    sk8pics Well-Known Member

    Could there have been a misunderstanding? Those self-serve kiosks ask for a credit card for ID only, not for buying a ticket.... The last two years I've gone to Guatemala from the U.S. twice and someone else bought the tickets each time, and I didn't have any trouble. The second trip, the person who had bought the tickets had gone on ahead of us, but we didn't have any trouble.
  10. luna_skater

    luna_skater Well-Known Member

    Agreed. When I fly to skating competitions to judge, my ticket has often been purchased by someone on the organizing committee (who I am not traveling with). I show up to check in with my boarding pass and ID, and have never been questioned about how the ticket was purchased or by whom.
  11. KCC

    KCC Well-Known Member

    I talked to the ticket agent at the United counter here in Boise at length (our home / my step-son's destination), and she confirmed that it is United's policy to physically see the credit card used to purchase the ticket. To answer your questions, DSS printed off his itinerary, but not his boarding passes at home, so perhaps that triggered something in the system.

    Again, this is the first time this ever happened to us. When I explained that I purchased a ticket for my mother, and she is half way through her flights but was not asked for my credit card when she checked in at Pittsburgh, the agent did not have an explanation for this scenario. Instead, she asked to see the credit card that I used to purchase Mom's ticket, and she pulled up Mom's itinerary and checked off some box to show that my credit card was "validated".

    This post was simply meant to alert you all that if you buy a ticket for someone else, there is a chance (probably a small chance) that they will have to produce the credit card used to purchase the ticket. Seems like a strange time to start enforcing a rule that no one knew about, but according to the gate agents in both Durango, CO and Boise, ID, it is and has always been a rule for United. All I can think of is that the number of instances of credit card fraud -- perhaps specifically to Durango -- is increasing a lot.

    The Boise gate agent said that if I or my husband ever buy a ticket on the internet for someone else, we would have to physically stop by the airport to have them validate our credit cards before they will allow the passenger to board the flight. This completely takes away the convenience factor of booking online.

    We have never had our credit cards/identity stolen, and we are significantly under our spending limits, so I seriously doubt that any of our scenario stems from Visa. Maybe we are just that 1 in 1000th person that gets spot-checked.
  12. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    I suspect there are some more stringent rules in effect as both the Christmas bombers used tickets purchased by a 3rd party. Guess TSA wants to make sure all parties are documented in their systems.
  13. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

    I can't see such a policy working very well. Businesses and other organizations frequently purchase tickets for other people.
  14. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    That is completely bizarre. This must be a United-only policy (or as you say, perhaps location-specific?). I can't remember the last time I flew United - I'm mostly on Continental or Southwest due to my most frequent destinations.

    Of course, everyone knows United breaks guitars
  15. dbny

    dbny New Member

  16. KCC

    KCC Well-Known Member

    Love the "United Breaks Guitars" video! Perfect! By the way, Delta snaps vaulting poles (for world class master's pole vaulters), and seemed to think the athletes could use them anyway. Even when everyone paid extra, insured them and took them to "air cargo" because of their unusual size. The competition was in Australia, and several people from the USA -- my husband being one of them -- ended up with broken poles. Crazy.
  17. Erica Lee

    Erica Lee New Member

    I sure hope this isn't a "trend" that catches on with all airlines. I have done both - flown on tickets purchased for me, and purchased tickets for others... never had an issue, and I hope I never will. What an inconvenient mess, if so!
  18. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    I've had this happen once before -- several years ago, when I bought a plane ticket for my younger brother who has a different last name and who lives in a different city. He looks like a Grateful Dead follower. He got challenged by the agent checking his luggage; I eventually got a phone call, but they let him use the ticket.

    Amex told me that they had not blocked the transaction -- and in fact I'd already paid Amex for the ticket, so I've no idea why the airline demurred.

    It was annoying, though. Just like Erika, I've bought plenty of tickets for other people -- don't know why this one triggered an issue.
  19. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    I agree. Carrying someone else's credit card violates almost every credit card company's terms & agreements. If that is United's policy, they are asking their customers to violate a credit card contract.
  20. skatemomaz

    skatemomaz Goodbye my sweet little boy

    From United's website

  21. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    According to KCC, the gate agent asked her husband's son to produce the credit card, which is against United's own policy that the purchaser ("you") may be asked to present the credit card.
  22. skatemomaz

    skatemomaz Goodbye my sweet little boy

    I understand that, I should have highlighted the section that said refer to your confirmation page for information or instructions. When KCC's husband made the reservation, I suspect the original confirmation gave instructions for contacting United to validate the credit card number.
  23. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    Idiotic concept, particularly given that the person who purchased the ticket could be thousands of miles away, and I've never seen this issue arise with any other airline, despite purchasing tickets all the time.
  24. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    I've never paid for an online ticket for someone else, and I don't know if the site warns you before buying a ticket for someone else that you're going to have to schlep to an airport (since in-city ticket agents have all but disappeared) to show a credit card before the ticket will be issued. I once got award tickets for two people and had to go to the airport, but haven't since, as long as I'm on the website. If you have a password-protected account with them, and are signed in when you place the order and have the credit card number with the CID/CVV2 on it, that should allow the buyer not to have to go to the airport with the credit card.

    Also, the "we may" stuff is ridiculous: I think they should tell someone 1. before they purchase and 2. after the purchase whether they need to go to the airport to show ID, or it should apply across the board, so that people don't get one set of rules with one flight and other set of rules the next time they fly. (There's enough of that.) If warned ahead of time, the customer could choose another way to buy, like through Expedia, which bears the fraud risk for third-party tickets, or choose another airline, which is, of course, why they bury it in the FAQs and fine print.

    amazon.com does not use pre-stored credit card info if you add a new ship-to address; they make you enter the credit card details for the credit card on file again. That adds another level of security.
  25. KCC

    KCC Well-Known Member

    Nope. I re-checked the confirmation & itinerary pages and there was no special info about having to validate the credit card.