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I’m always on the lookout for interesting travel stories, and this one comes from the travel StackExchange site posted by someone who has an unusual name (from an English perspective) which sometimes causes him trouble with boarding passes.

A Name Ending In MR Causes An Unusual Boarding Pass

The original poster (OP) says:

My name is Amr Eladawy. Whenever I get a ticket through an agent and they put my first name as Amr, it lands as A only in the Airlines system. That happened with many airlines and different agents. That is pretty much annoying, specially during the online check-in.

When I make a direct booking from the airlines website, the ticket is issued as ELADAWY/AMRMR.

It seems that there is a smart rule that considers the suffix MR as Mister and drops it.

Is this the correct behavior? What should I do to have my name printed correctly on my bookings.

  1. In one of my bookings, the first and last name were swapped by mistake. However, AMR in the last name was not a problem at all.It seems that this rule is applied only on the first name.
  2. The airlines will swear that they received the name as A and the agent will swear that the name was sent as Amr.
  3. The problem maybe in the GDS used to integrate the agent’s system with the airlines’s.
  4. I sent an email to the GDS about this issue and they simply ignored me.

Now, moving forward. Amr is a very popular Arabic name. It’s also a very old one and has been used for thousands of years. How to properly report this to the GDS providers and get this issue fixed?

I have tried contacting one GDS responsible for the latest booking I had, but they ignored me.

Image from Flickr

Why Do Mr (or Ms or Mrs) Show Up On Boarding Passes

I know that I have seen Mr show up on some of my boarding passes before, but I never thought about how that might affect someone whose name ends in Mr (or Ms, or Mrs). OP says that sometimes his boarding pass is correct, and sometimes the airline removes the “mr” from the end of his first name

  • So sometimes his name shows up as ELADAWY AMR
  • And sometimes it shows up as ELADADAY A (with the MR removed)

This all has to do with the ancient IT that many airlines and reservation systems use. As one respondent said:

Airlines were early pioneers in communication technologies, and have been very slow to modernize. For example, today, airline IT systems still communicate extensively using TTY: Type-A for synchronous communication, and Type-B for asynchronous communications.

There is a standard for TTY, which nobody follows, a de-facto standard by SITA, which is mostly followed, and many parties have quirks in their implementation, either not being able to parse some fields/special indicators, or emitting incorrect ones; everything you’d expect from a 100 years old format which grew organically as new needs and ideas arose.

This is a pervasive theme in Airline IT, with multiple epochs of technology being used side by side as companies migrate very slowly.

The airlines will swear that they received the name as A and the agent will swear that the name was sent as Amr.

They are both right, quite likely, and the issue lies between the Travel Agency and the GDS.

GDS — such as Amadeus and Sabre — generally offer multiple interfaces into their systems, from old ones kept for compatibility reasons to more modern ones. More modern interfaces will accept structured messages which leave no room for ambiguity; the old ones however… are full of quirks.

In general, Travel Agencies are loathe to modernize their IT: it requires re-training the agents, and buying new software, which costs quite a bit of money with little to no benefits to them.

In the case of a Travel Agency connected to Amadeus, for example, this means that they are likely using ATE: the Amadeus Terminal Emulator, which as the name implies emulates the terminals of old.

What To Do

I remember one of the first times that I noticed that my boarding pass had an extra MR (for “mister”) on the end of my first name. I was worried that this would cause problems as part of the flying process. Everyone assured me that there would be no problems, and in fact, I have never had anyone mention it. As another respondent mentioned, everyone who works for an airline or at an airport is familiar with this, so there shouldn’t be an issue. I can imagine though that there might be problems in Amr’s situation.

The Bottom Line

A poster shared on the travel StackExchange that his first name ends in Mr (Amr). This has occasionally caused issues with his boarding passes, as, depending on the situation, some airlines remove the MR from his name (leaving his first name as just A).

What do you think about this situation? Leave your thoughts in the comments below

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