I consider myself a seasoned traveler but even season travelers have hiccups. The other day I was traveling solo domestically and headed to the airport straight after work on a Friday. I am the type of person who doesn’t like to wait in the boarding area long so I always check-in online, have my boarding pass on my phone and head straight to the security line when I get to the airport, arriving no more than 60mins before my flight departs.
I walked up to TSA at 6:02PM for my 7PM flight and stopped to get my license out of my wallet. My license was not in my wallet, or my pocket, or my jacket, or my purse, or anywhere. There was no way I could make it home and back so I decided to ask if there was anything that could be done. The security line agent checking said to continue and speak with the TSA agent and let me skip the line to do so. I let the agent know and they asked if I had anything with my name on it. Luckily I had my work ID which has my photo and also took out my credit cards and insurance card to show TSA. He let me know I needed a paper boarding pass since I had no ID so I had to go back out to the kiosks to print a boarding pass and come back on line. It’s now 6:12PM, panic is low key setting in, I would have been through security already! The agent calls for a supervisor to assist me and it’s been 5 minutes (but feels like 50) and no one has come.
I’m like I am going to miss this flight and it’s the last one of the night, my friend is going to kill me if I miss her 30th Birthday weekend. Finally a supervisor comes and the TSA agent lets him know he already checked the documents I have and I was cleared. He puts me to the front of the line to put my bags immediately through the X-RAY machines (in a special tub). I go through the metal detector myself and then because I have no ID they did a full pat-down search on me. They also go through my belongings entirely opening my bag and going through each piece of clothing. Once they've checked my belonging I’m free to go at 6:32PM.
Since I had some extra time as my flight wasn't boarding yet I asked the TSA agent what would have happened if I didn’t have my work ID and my credit cards. He said I may have still been able to fly if they were able to verify my identity. They will collect information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity. If you already know you don't have a valid government issued ID because it is lost, stolen, or expired be sure to arrive at least 2 hours in advance in case of any delayes with verifying your identification.
Note this only works on domestic flights, you cannot fly internationally without a passport because even though you may get through TSA the airline will require you to show your passport prior to boarding your flight. You can read more here and here on TSA’s website.
Did you know you could fly domestically without an ID?