Jesse Demastrie and his wife flew from Washington to Las Vegas without incident the day after Christmas. TSA agents waved them through the screening area, and United Airlines allowed the couple to board the aircraft.
But Demastrie had been worried that they might be turned away from their flight. When his father booked their tickets through Travelocity as a gift, he typed his daughter-in-law’s name as Dianne Elizabeth Demastrie instead of her legal name, Dianne Tharp Demastrie.
“I called both Travelocity and United to see if we could get the ticket changed,” said Demastrie, a media buyer from Washington. “But the best they said they could do was to make a note on the account of the name change.”
Small discrepancies between the name on a ticket and a passenger’s driver’s license or passport used to be shrugged off by airlines and airport screeners. But under the Transportation Security Administration’s Secure Flight program, the name on a ticket and on an ID must match exactly. If they don’t, you could be delayed or prevented from flying. Read more “Does Secure Flight program mean more money for the airlines?”
Having the wrong name on your airline ticket is no longer a minor inconvenience, now that the TSA has begun enforcing its name-matching requirements for airline tickets. And that could be a show-stopper for Jesse Demastrie and his wife, who are scheduled to fly from Washington to Las Vegas for the holidays.
The problem? Demastrie’s father, who booked the flights through Travelocity, got his wife’s name wrong.
“He inadvertently used my wife’s old middle name,” he says. “She actually dropped her middle name and now uses her maiden name as her middle name. So the ticket she was issued has her correct first and last name but her old middle name.”
Passengers must now provide their full names as they appear on a government-issued ID, their date of birth and their gender when they book a flight.
The computer-generated missive, complete with signatures of the airline’s executives, landed in my mailbox just before the big day. At first I was flattered by the thoughtful gesture. But then I was troubled.
How did they know my birthday?
And then it occurred to me: Airlines are now requiring passengers to provide their full name as it appears on a government-issued I.D., their date of birth and their gender as part of the Transportation Security Administration’s new Secure Flight initiative.
You probably know Secure Flight as the pesky requirement that the name on your passport or driver’s license be an exact match with the name on your airline ticket. But the program is much more than that. With the extra passenger data, the agency promises to improve the travel experience for all airline passengers, particularly those who have been misidentified as terrorists in the past. Read more “If it’s called Secure Flight, why do I feel so insecure?”
The Transportation Security Administration likes to keep terrorists guessing. Apparently, it likes to keep travelers guessing, too.
And we do. Shoes on — or off? Laptop computer in the bag — or on the conveyor belt? And tickets: middle name, middle initial or just first and last? Oh, and are they going to pull you over at the gate for additional screening?
“We don’t want to be consistent,” TSA spokeswoman Lauren Gaches told me. “We want to be flexible. We don’t want a checklist mentality. If we are predictable, it could become easier for someone who wants to do us harm to figure out the system.” Read more “With air security, travelers are flying blind”
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