If you are flying today or in the future, you might want to double check that your ticket has all the new Secure Flight information required by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This means your ticket must have your name, date of birth and gender that matches your state issued identification.
I am sure you are aware of the TSA’s watch list. This is a big list with a lot of names of people that shouldn’t be flying or need to have a special screening. Previously airlines have been responsible for checking passenger’s names on the watch list and now that will fall to the TSA. There have also been a lot of mistakes with the list, causing frustration for many Americans.
Of course in the name of making us all safer than we already are (yes there is a bit of sarcasm there), the TSA is upgrading their watch list. Most of these changes you won’t notice, unless your boarding pass doesn’t match your ID. Do not worry, if you bought your ticket in the last year, you should be fine. Most airlines have been collecting Secure Flight Information for a while now.
“Delta began requesting Secure Flight data from customers on August 15, 2009. As of June 12, 2010, passengers were required to provide the information,” Susan Elliott with Delta communications told me. When asked what will happen with passengers without Secure Flight information, she explained, “The TSA is requiring the information for all passengers as of November 1 and customers that have not provided their full name, gender and date of birth at least 72 hours in advance may have their reservation canceled.”
It might be worth your time to double check via your online reservation. Although the TSA won’t let you change your reservation and add the additional information 72 hours before your flight, you can still make a brand new reservation up until the time the flight leaves.
The TSA isn’t totally clear how off your name has to be before not letting you fly. On their TSA blog they talk about what will happen if names don’t match, but they come far from being obvious. What if my ticket has David vs Dave. What if you have a hyphenated last name? How about if you have many different names? In what situations will the TSA let you fly and in which will they not?
One of the big issues I have had with the TSA is consistency. Different locations do not enforce the rules the same and how can we expect this to be any different? What if the TSA gives you authorization at one airport, but you can’t make it home from another?
Will we be safer because of these changes? No, I do not think so. Might there be less people being harassed because of errors with the watch list? Probably. Will there be more people harassed and inconvenienced because of name issues? I am guessing so.Image: quinn.anya