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How Can I Buy a Plane Ticket for Someone Else in Another Country?

June 13, 2021
Kenneth Holland

"Can I buy a plane ticket for someone else in another country?" You certainly can and it's done all the time. But make sure you prepare beforehand...

Buying a plane ticket for someone else can seem confusing and difficult.

On one hand, with the advent of online booking, e-tickets and e-fares it's easier than ever to not only book an online reservation, but to book a ticket for someone else in a different country for international travel.

However, there's two big issues to keep in mind:

In most cases you have to have detailed information ready to present to the carrier (and this can vary with each airline) and because of heightened security this can add even more complexity to your booking. Get it wrong and you might not be able to check in and fly!

On top of that, you now add The Pandemic in to the mix and you have even more potential issues getting the traveler on board their flight (at the time of this article).

How to buy an airline ticket for someone else in another country

You Can Buy a Plane Ticket for Someone Else in Another Country by Following This SkyGoFly Guide

We're here to help you clear the confusion so you'll know exactly what you'll need when you go to buy a plane ticket for a friend or family member but they are in a different country. So let's dig in...

How to Buy an Airline Ticket for Someone Else...The Basics You Should Know

Before you delve in to the steps needed to book an airline ticket for someone abroad, you may want to check out our guide, 'How To Buy a Plane Ticket for Someone Else (Don’t Leave Them Stranded)'. We cover all the basics involved when you buy a plane ticket for someone, whether domestically or internationally.

Countries You Cannot Travel To Or Have Current Travel Advisories (IMPORTANT!)

At this point in time with the Pandemic it's VERY important to know the destinations and what countries you can fly to...or have some type of travel restriction.

Understandably, this list (right now) is large. Don't get caught out. Make sure you know what the current travel policies are for the nation you're considering.

Here's a link to the list:

Current Travel Advisories

(NOTE: The status of various countries is changing rapidly. So check often)

What You SHOULD HAVE To Buy a Ticket For Someone Else in a Different Country

The following is a fairly comprehensive guide containing the items you'll need to successfully buy an air ticket for someone who's flying in a different country or to a different country

Some of these items (depending on the carrier) might not be needed. Our advice? Do them all. Don't leave them to chance and have the flyer stranded at the airport...

Have Your ID and/or Passport That is Current

Have a current ID that includes all the passenger's details (legal name, date of birth, picture, etc...)

If you (or the person you're buying the ticket for) are flying abroad (almost certainly if you're reading this) then having a passport is pretty much a must these days. Make sure the passport details are accurate and not expired.

Send a Copy of the Credit Card Used to Make the Purchase and The Purchaser's Passport

Make a copy of the front and back of your credit card/card number (the one used in the purchase that includes expiration date) and a copy of your passport (and passport number).

Contact the airline and make sure where to send it and check they have received it. You want to make certain they will not question the validity of the transaction and that your personal details used for the booking are valid.

You can check with the airline to see if they require these items (many do not). But if the airline gives you the OPTION of doing it...then do it!

Send a Letter Confirming You Authorized the Purchase of the Airline Tickets

In addition to the credit card and passport above, also send along a signed letter stating you have authorized the booking process. Include the PNR (see below) in the letter as well.

Bring Your Printed Itinerary That Includes Your PNR (Passenger Name Record)

The Passenger Name Record (PNR) gives you the real-time status of your flight booking. The PNR is six alphanumeric characters and is found on your travel confirmation page and your mobile boarding pass (see image below). It's essentially the ID number for your booking.

PNR's are a booking record...they do NOT represent a passenger. So if you book several tickets at the same time, they will share the same PNR.

Technically speaking, you don't even need your ticket if you have your PNR, but make sure you DO have your ticket. Don't leave that to chance...especially as the passenger moves through the airport terminal.

The great thing with the PNR is you can reprint a lost ticket, and it's the easiest way to check flight details...so you absolutely want to have it.

United Boarding Pass with PNR

The Six Digit Code is on the upper right...'Confirmation'

Asian and Middle East Carriers Typically Ask for the Most 'Proof' When You're Purchasing a Ticket from Another Country

Middle East and Asian carriers have long had the reputation of checking the actual, physical credit card that was used to make the airline purchase and add additional fees.

United States airports don't usually require this...and this doesn't seem to be so much the case these days with the Asian and Middle East carriers but again, you don't want to risk it. 

One thing you can do is to go to the airline's ticket desk (whether at the airport or one of their ticket offices) and authenticate your card ahead of time. Another is using an OTA (online travel site...see below)

Buying an Airline Ticket Through an Online Travel Agency

Using an online ticket travel agency can be a really good option for booking on someone's else's behalf flying abroad. We cover the practices in our guide, 'Can I Buy a Plane Ticket for Someone Else on Expedia or Other Travel Sites?'. But we also recommend using the tips outlined above to make extra sure.

Buying an Airline Ticket for an Unaccompanied Minor Abroad

Buying a plane ticket for a minor is the same process, except for any rules and regulations a particular airline has for minor flyers (age minimums, etc...). You can got more info in your guide HERE.

A Summary of Things To Do

  • Know What Countries You Can and Cannot Travel To
  • Have the ID That is Current (not Expired) and Accurate (and includes full name etc...)
  • Send a Copy of the Credit Card Used to Make the Purchase and The Purchaser's Passport
  • Send a Letter Confirming You the Purchase of the Airline Tickets (including travel dates)
  • Bring Your Printed Itinerary That Includes Your PNR (Passenger Name Record)
  • Know the Middle East and Asian Carriers' Policies
  • Buying an Airline Ticket Through an Online Travel Agency
  • Buying an Airline Ticket for a Minor Abroad

Conclusion

With today's air travel environment, things can admittedly get a little complicated and frankly, downright frustrating.

But if you're armed beforehand with the proper knowledge and information on ticket purchasing for others (especially as it applies to foreign air flights), you can make the travel experience really enjoyable.

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