By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, adam@proudmoney.com

You purchased an airline ticket that you can’t use and now want to transfer it to someone else who can go on the trip. Can you do that?

No.

You were probably hoping for a different answer, or at least maybe not so abrupt of an answer, but the plain fact is that you can not simply have the name changed on an airline ticket after it has been purchased.

So what should I do if I want to transfer a purchased ticket to someone else?

Well, like I said, you can’t just transfer the ticket. That said, there are two ways you might be able to change to a different passenger without buying a new ticket (well, sort of, technically you will buy a new ticket):

  • If you bought a refundable ticket (versus a nonrefundable ticket), then obviously you can have the amount of the ticket refunded to you and then purchase a new ticket in the name of the person you wanted to transfer the ticket to.
  • If you bought the ticket less than 24 hours ago, you can simply cancel the reservation and get a refund without paying any extra fees in most cases. Then you can buy a new ticket in the name of the person you wanted to transfer the ticket to.

What if I bought a nonrefundable ticket more than 24 hours ago?

If your ticket is non-refundable and was purchased more than 24 hours ago, you are mostly out of luck. You can pay a change fee that will usually be $150 in order to be able to use the original ticket within a year, but the ticket will still be in the name of the originally ticketed passenger.

The only real workaround is to book a very cheap flight with this changed ticket in order to get a credit for the difference in cost between the original flight and the new flight. Then you could use whatever credit is remaining to book a flight for someone else. However, at that point you’ve paid a change fee and bought another ticket just to get a credit that is probably fairly small. Probably not worth it, and it doesn’t really solve the original problem.

Final option: begging

Rules were made to be broken, amiright? Depending on the circumstances that led you to want a transfer of an airline ticket to someone else, you might find success by telling a customer service agent your particular sob story. Exceptions can be made. Usually that would be in the form of refunding your nonrefundable ticket, not simply changing the name on the ticket — that’s never going to happen. But if you manage to get a full refund, buying a new ticket for someone could essentially be the same as transferring an existing ticket — it could even be cheaper depending on current fares.