10/29/2012 08:04 am ET Updated Dec 28, 2012

Why Don't Airlines Allow Name Changes? Ask

Have a question about airlines/airfares or travel in general? Post it in the comments below and we'll answer if we can.

Q: How I can assist my elderly (88- and 91-year old) parents when they fly? I watched yesterday as it took 30 minutes for them to go through security in Portland, Oregon. (Security only had one person checking ID for regular passengers and one for priority passengers.) My parents could have used assistance getting their things through the scanner and collecting them afterwards and I wish I could have been with them to help. Is it possible for me to get a pass to assist them to the gate? Would I need a doctor's note to do that? Or should I get a wheelchair for one - would they get assistance then?

A: Although airline regulations vary, and are subject to the interpretation of personnel, you should be able to get a gate pass to accompany your parents (this also applies to parents seeing off children who are flying solo). Just ask at a customer service desk. Wheelchair assistance is also an option, although it won't get you past the TSA. If for some reason you should be refused, buy a fully refundable ticket to anywhere and that way you can go through security with your parents. Immediately apply for a full refund after you see your parents off.

Q: I would like to know how the airline industry gets away with not allowing passengers to change the name on a ticket so that someone else can use it. No other industry has anything in place like this. They use the "security excuse" which is BS.

A: You're right, this probably has nothing to do with security. Some airlines, present and past, have allowed name changes, but for a fee or in some cases for free. Mexican airline interjet, which flies from the US to Mexico and beyond, allows name changes for $25 plus tax, for example. Frontier Airlines now allows name changes for between $0 and $100, depending on the fare type bought and passenger frequent flyer status, assuming there is no itinerary change. Now-defunct Midwest Airlines used to allow name changes for a fee, too. Perhaps we will see other airlines allow name changes in order to raise ancillary revenue or to further reward their premium flyers.