Are there any transferable airline tickets?

Everyone knows that airline tickets, once purchased, cannot normally be transferred to another person.

Are there any airlines that sell transferable tickets? E.g. where I can buy two round trip tickets from JFK->LAX and if my wife and I can’t go due to work pressures, I can just give them to my little sister?

Nearly all airlines sell refundable tickets.

If you can’t use your refundable ticket, simply get a refund and use the money to buy a ticket for your little sister.

Does the TSA even allow transferable tickets?

No airline sells transferable tickets. For one thing they don’t want scalpers buying up lots of tickets in advance (when they are cheaper) and reselling them later for a profit. Airline revenue management is a very delicate business.

Yes, but refundable tickets are (almost always) more expensive than non-refundable ones. I’m guessing the OP was hoping for a way to buy cheap tickets but still have someone get some use out of them if he personally couldn’t go.

Check out the fare rules for the airline you want to fly with. I had a look at American Airlines travelling LAX to MEL and name changes are allowed on full economy fare tickets. Note that you can’t just give the ticket to someone else, you have to get it reissued in their name. Also the full economy fare may be two to three times as expensive as the cheaper fares you’re used to paying for.

Yes they do. Edit: Scalping is not an issue because the change has to be made through the airline.

Not if they sell the ticket to someone else before you can repurchase it. Or they are overbooked and happily issue you a refund, but not sell your sister a ticket.

Richard, I certainly made an error in what I said, but I wouldn’t really call the example you gave a transferable ticket (even though the airline says it is). From the ticket holder’s point of view it doesn’t seem any different to cancelling one ticket and buying a new one under a different name. Perhaps there is a cancellation fee which is saved, but on a full Y fare (I don’t know if AA considers only a Y fare basis to be full Y or if it includes B as well) I’d be surprised if there’s much of a cancellation fee.

As you pointed out, full Y is insanely expensive. A search on AA for a random date in July on the route you used shows the lowest one-way fare to be around $1100, with “Changeable and Refundable” fares (they don’t state what the fare basis is) of over $6000.

Even if the change didn’t have to be made through the airline, scalping’s not an issue because no-one’s going to pay more than full Y to sit in the Y cabin, so no profit margin.

If the flight is sold out then you would probably struggle to just refund one ticket and then buy the same one in a different name. It effectively streamlines the process.

I realised afterward that that was a codeshare with Qantas anyway. It is actually very difficult to find out the fare rules on the AA and US Airways websites prior to booking the flight, or going further through the booking process than I’m prepared to. Their websites suck.

If it’s cheaper than Business and Y is sold out then you might be able to scalp a full fare ticket for a profit. But there’s nothing preventing you from doing this anyway, just change the name on the ticket through the airline and charge a “booking fee” to whoever it is you’re giving the ticket to. Things are complicated a bit by the notion of having a ticket in the first place. I haven’t used a physical ticket in 10 years.

That last paragraph conflicts with what I originally said about scalping. Scalping could be an issue but is not just a simple process of selling somebody your physical ticket.

Former Airline Customer Service Manager checking in here. Even post 9/11 a name change was possible. If the circumstance warranted it I could over ride the policy. I trained my staff to use common sense and I never hesitated to do the right thing.

It’d have to be a real good reason though. I bought this ticket for my wife and I to use in August and she was just killed in an auto accident in Kansas. I need to change the date of travel to today and I want to put my sister-in-law’s name on her ticket.

I’d rather take a chance that I might be scammed than to find out that I screwed someone over in a time of family crisis. Most times I made the call to over ride, I’d waive the change fee and fare difference too. It was rare, but I did it often enough that I knew how to do it in Sabre.

If anyone at an airline tells you it can’t be done they are lying. In this day and age the name change feature is built into the reservation system. If you misspell your name, leave off a suffix like Jr, or III, we needed to be able to match it up for screening purposes, so changing a name completely is possible.

Now that being said, even at my airline there were rule Nazis who didn’t believe in grey. Only black and white. I heard time and again about how inflexible other carriers were in regards to rules.