Thursday, November 29, 2007

You only need to provide your first initial and last name to fly

Right in with the recent news that the TSA wants to collect full names, birthdays and genders as part of secure flight is the indication that currently you only need to provide your first initial and last name.
Does this mean that the airline only passes on your first initial and last name to the TSA, or do they pass along your full name if you give it to them?
Either way, I assume this means that you are free to provide the airline with only your first initial and last name.
I have always given my full name to the airline, but that meant that when the TSA recorded my boarding pass information as I chose to fly without ID, they got to record my full name because it was on my boarding pass. Although I have an uncommon last name, I would really prefer to only give my first initial and last name, and leave off the chance of the TSA keeping records that identify me more fully. Not for any good reason, just that it freaks me out that the federal government is keeping records of my movements.
Even if the rule does go into effect, providing this additional information would be optional.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

How to comment on Secure Flight

Secure flight is the plan whereby the TSA would approve each individual traveller for airplane travel, rather than the current system where the airlines check travellers against a watch list and no-fly list.

Written comments for secure flight must be received by November 21, 2007. Please leave a comment even if you don't think it will help. By my count there are only 291 comments as of today. There should be thousands...
Here's how to leave a comment.
1. Go to
2. Scroll down to "Optional Step 4" in the search box. Select category "Docket ID" from the dropdown menu. Paste "TSA-2007-28572" into the adjacent text box. Leave everything else as is. Press submit.
3. To leave a comment, click on the callout image:. It is on the right hand side under "Comments
Add/Due By". To view other people's comments, click on the link under "Docket ID".

Here's the TSA's information about secure flight.
What is so bad about secure flight?
1. It violates your privacy. The government would be collecting and storing large quantities of information about you.
2. It violates your explicit rights to freedom of assembly because it requires prior permission for you to travel. It also interferes with your implicit right to movement.
3. It places an undue economic burden on airlines and would increase passenger delays.

A good overview of problems with secure flight is available here and here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Portland, Expired ID, Successful, November 2007

Airline: ?
Airport: Portland
ID Offered: Expired driver's license
Date: November, 2007
Reference: Rachel
Reason given: Expired
Result: Successful
Description:The TSA gave me shit because my drivers license had expired. I forgot about this and if I'd remembered could have brought my passport. And I have a current license, but lost my wallet and then used my old expired license figuring I will go back to the DMV soon, and then haven't had time, and then forgot I had to do it. Soooo... it was super dumb, because an expired drivers license is still perfectly valid ID. The only reason it expires is to make you go back to the DMV to check your vision and if you are still competent to drive, or something. It's not like the ID-ness of it expires! There is your photo! Still very you-like! But the TSA is too dumb to realize that. And so put me down as having NO ID. Which also is no big deal and just means you go in a different line, which as a crippled person I do anyway, and they frisk you extra (which they do anyway since I'm crippled, naturally) and search my bag by hand.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Fly without ID: The How-To Guide

There is a lot of good information that, at one time or another, I have provided in the sidebars. It is archived here (and regularly updated). Last updated Jan 17, 2008.

Other FAQs

Q. Can TSA look through my wallet to see if I have ID?
A. They probably shouldn't do this, but it has happened several times. They have also been known to photocopy personal papers (although the TSA has denied this).

Q. Can I refuse to be subjected to a search once I have entered the security area?
A. No. You consent to a search by entering the security area.

Q. Why doesn't the airline check my ID before I board the airplane? Wouldn't that make things more secure?
A. Money.

Q. Who are the ticket checkers?
A. In most airports, the ticket checker used to report to the airlines.
(Source) Recently, these ticket checkers were replaced by TSA agents (see this post).

Why this Blog Exists
You have the right, according to TSA (see this letter), to fly without ID, if you are willing to subject yourself to extra screening.

You can proceed with your boarding pass directly to the security line. Tell the agent who checks credentials that you are choosing to fly as a selectee. They will usually mumble something like "you forgot your ID?". You can just repeat that you are choosing to fly as a selectee. The TSA agent will mark "SSSS" on your boarding pass and will usually send you to a special line for additional inspection.

This inspection includes a hand check of your bag, swabs for explosives, and a puff test of your person in a big puff machine. You may refuse the puff test, and will get a manual pat-down instead.

Choosing not to show your ID to the TSA does not usually take much longer than going through the normal procedure, and in some cases may even be faster.

Previously, you needed to go to your airline's check in counter and ask to fly as a selectee so they can mark "SSSS" on your boarding pass before you go to the security line. This no longer seems to be necessary. If you need to check bags, or need to check in at the counter itself, some airlines may require ID for revenue protection. Please check the links above for information about individual airlines--most will accept alternative ID, such as a credit or library card.

In one case, the TSA recorded information from a boarding pass.

If you have successfully flown without ID or with non-governmental ID and would allow me to post your experience here, please email me the details at

You may lose the right to travel on airplanes without prior permission from the government. Additional information and instructions on how to comment on "Secure Flight".

Important Links

Edward Hasbrouck's blog
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Unsecure Flight
Papers please

Your right to fly without ID (proof at last)

View posts where...
Passenger was... Successful / Unsuccessful in flying without presenting ID to the government.
Passenger reported to authorities that they chose to not show ID or, alternatively, Lost ID.
Passenger was able to fly completely ID free, or showed alternative ID, or where the ID had .
Passenger departed from AUS / / BUR / / DCA /DFW / EWR /GPT / / LAX / MDW / /PHL /SFO /Virgin Islands Interesting experiences or news about TSA and id checkers.
Information concerning your privacy, TSA keeping a record of travelers and tsa enforcing corporate policy.
Passenger travelled on Southwest / Continental / Delta / American / United / Airtran (Note: If you have a pre-printed boarding pass, you no longer need to interact with the airline to fly without ID).
You may lose the right to travel on airplanes without prior permission from the government and invasive government databases. News on the frightening and realID programs.

The Mystery of "SSSS".
NOTE: As of 12/2008, the answers to these questions no longer appear to be relevant. Since the TSA is now performing ID checks, there is apparently no requirement for the airline to mark "SSSS" on your boarding pass.
This information is provided for historical purposes.
(source: Chris Soghoian and others)

Q: If I don't have SSSS on my boarding pass, can I go through security without any ID?

A: No.

Q: Will TSA write SSSS on my boarding pass if I don't have any ID?
A: No. You must get it done by the airline.
We will send you back to the airline.

Q: How do you know if I didn't just write the letters "SSSS" on the boarding pass myself
A: TSA: "We know. There are secret things that the airline staff will write that you won't recognize." Writing "SSSS" on the boarding pass yourself is probably illegal. Since all the laws are secret, we can't really know. According to
Chris Soghoian, "as things currently stand, unless I've missed something, it seems that the only thing stopping you from flying without any ID on continental airlines, is a sharpie pen, and a willingness to break a couple rules."

Airline Guide
NOTE: As of 12/2008, the willingness of individual airlines to let you fly without ID may no longer be relevant. Since the TSA is now performing ID checks, there is apparently no requirement for the airline to mark "SSSS" on your boarding pass. This information is provided for historical purposes.

Southwest - will quickly and efficiently (no questions asked) print you out a new boarding pass with "SSSS" or mark "No ID" with a stamp and some numbers on your boarding pass if you tell them you want to fly without ID as a selectee.
Continental - absolutely requires some form of ID (library cards, student ids or credit cards may work). Present this at the check in counter.
Northwest - will quite happily give you a special, machine-printed SSSS pass if you tell them you have forgotten ID. Source 1
: It may be easiest to print your boarding pass and bring it with you before you go up to the check in counter. You can use your confirmation number to print your boarding pass.

TSA rifles through wallet, confiscates ID

I have always wondered when flying as a selectee (declining to show ID) if the TSA might rifle through my wallet and find my ID for themselves. We know that we consent to a search of our belongings when we enter the security line, and that there is no option for refusal. While we have learned that the TSA may record things like the books we read, I have always assumed that the search itself must be reasonable. However, Dmitry Samarov reports that the TSA rifled through his wallet, examined his ID, found one that was fake (although very old), called the local law enforcement, and confiscated it. I have previously pointed out another case where TSA agents rifled through a wallet and asked a lot of questions. Our right to fly without presenting papers thus may be limited by the TSA rifling through our things to verify our identity. What are our rights when travelling?