As of the 21st of June 2008 the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) required all passengers over the age of 18 to present a valid form of federal or state issued photo identification to cross from the ‘land side’ to the ‘air side’ of an airport to fly on a commercial flight.
While the TSA states that all travelers must present a valid photo identification that contains the passengers full name, date of birth gender and expiration date, along with a tamper resistant feature … all a passenger really must do is be able to verify who they are … with or without valid photo identification.
Not to delve into the legal challenges to the TSA’s photo identification requirement for US domestic air travel … in reality (and in writing from the TSA) … passengers who do not or cannot present a photo identification can in fact pass through a TSA checkpoint … and further more they can fly on any US domestic commercial flight.
Yes, presenting a valid and complying photo identification at a TSA check point speeds up the process, but should you not have a valid photo identification or you choose to not present a photo identification, the TSA’s Travel Document Checkers (TDC) are authorized to ask travelers a series of verifiable challenge questions to verify a travelers identity. Some of the questions may be a bit personal in nature…but answer then correctly and you can pass through security without photo identification.
Those who pass through a TSA checkout without proper ID may be subject to a secondary screening of their body and carry on baggage.
Of course with everything the TSA says publicly regarding the need to keep the ‘air side’ of an airport ‘sterile’ there are loopholes to the system … this being one of them.
While many within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) view loops holes as gaping security risks this is likely not one of them. Why is this likely not a security risk? Because this loophole helps those who have forgotten their ID, accidentally checked their wallet, or lost their drivers license. If someone were dedicated to causing an incident in an airport or was plotting to take down an airliner they would not red-flag themselves at the TSA security checkpoint by not having a proper photo identification.
So should you find yourself at the airport without your ID don’t worry … as long as you are who you say you are …. you’ll be fine.