By Robert A. Clifford
Clifford Law Offices
Airport security staff work to make fliers safer. The tools of their trade include the use of full-body scanners at some airports, including O'Hare and soon to be at Midway. But apparently there is a little-known secret about flying: it really isn't all that difficult to board a flight without any identification. That's right, with none.
If you lost your identification or simply forgot to take it along, there are many anecdotal stories of people boarding their flights without any form of ID. And apparently this may not be as uncommon as some may think.
If you are traveling on a return trip home and the same airlines can find your initial trip, which isn't that difficult if you've just been gone several days, the airlines may assume you are returning home and are a bit negligent in forgetting or losing your ID.
But even for the initial leg of a trip, it is possible without too much of a hassle to get on board without an ID.
The Transportation Security Administration is responsible for safety at airports. On its website, it states, "Effective June 21, 2008, adult passengers (18 and over) are required to show a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID that contains the following: name, date of birth, gender, expiration date and a tamper-resistant feature in order to be allowed to go through the checkpoint and onto their flight. Passengers who do not or cannot present an acceptable ID will have to provide information to the Transportation Security Officer performing Travel Document Checking duties in order to verify their identity. Passengers who are cleared through this process may be subject to additional screening."
Consequently, most people present their drivers' license, state ID or passport. If they don't have it, they may have to go through some extra questioning. To address these situations, a look at the TSA's website and blog reveal some helpful hints.
The TSA issued some tips on its blog in a post called "Helpful Hints for Summer Travelers." The TSA states, "If you have lost or forgotten your ID, you will still be permitted to fly as long as you help us verify you are who you say you are by answering a few questions for us. It will take some extra time, so please make sure you get to the airport earlier than you normally would." (The TSA Blog)
The TSA goes on to state that, "Cooperative passengers without ID may be subjected to additional screening protocols, including enhanced physical screening, enhanced carry-on and/or checked baggage screening, interviews with behavior detection or law enforcement officers and other measures." (TSA Announces Enhancements to Airport ID Requirements to Increase Safety)
In another post on its blog, the TSA states, "So, what if you show up at a TSA checkpoint and you can't find your ID? Does that mean you won't fly? Nope. You'll still be able to fly as long as you provide us with some information that will help us determine you are who you say you are. Verifying the identity of people coming through checkpoints is an important part of security, just as vetting passenger names against the No Fly and Selectee lists. Using the information you provide, if we can confirm your identity, you'll be cleared to go through security, and you may or may not have to go through some additional screening. If we can't confirm your identity with the information you provide or you're not willing to provide us with the information to help us make a determination, you may not be able to fly." (Holiday Travel Refresher: What if I Lose or Forget My ID?)
The TSA also warns that you must indicate that you have lost or misplaced your ID, as opposed to willingly refusing to show an ID in an exercise of your rights.
The TSA states, "If you willfully refuse to show ID you will not be allowed to board. This is pursuant to a regulation put into place in June of 2008 that states: ' Passengers that willfully refuse to provide identification at security checkpoint will be denied access to the secure area of airports. This change will apply exclusively to individuals that simply refuse to provide any identification or assist transportation security officers in ascertaining their identity.'" (TSA Announces Enhancements to Airport ID Requirements to Increase Safety)
So, if you have forgotten, misplaced or lost your ID while on a trip or just before leaving for one, don't panic. Some helpful suggestions to board are:
- Arrive at least another hour before you would normally arrive.
- Be friendly.
- Bring any other documents that can assist in helping to identify you, even a gym ID, credit cards, etc.
- Bring your printed boarding pass if you can log on prior to arriving at the airport.
Be prepared for additional screening and a lot of questions; while there is no guarantee of getting on, it appears that many people have.
It makes one wonder about Code Orange and all the security personnel at airports. Certainly, giving people a break when they travel is important.
But it also makes one pause to think that travel could be made so much easier if protocol was improved for those who are not troublesome, while at the same time focusing on preventing terrorist activity.