Travelers will see an added layer of security when the TSA finishes implementing “Secure Flight” officially on August 15, 2009.
Travelers will also see an added security hurdle because Secure Flight requires that all of your identification match. Yes, that’s right: match.
What that means in practice is that you may not be allowed to fly if your name is not consistent on any of your IDs, or if your ID photo doesn’t look like you. Your birth date needs to be accurate too. The TSA now also will require that at least one piece of ID lists your gender.
So now is the time to examine your driver’s license or passport to see that your first name, middle initial (if you use one), and last name appeared exactly the same across all of your identification. If you need a new photo for your driver’s license, now is the time to get it.
Being consistent with your name also means that all of your bookings – including air, hotel, and car rental – must be consistent.
The bottom line is that eight years after 9/11 the TSA is finally getting up to speed on the role of systematically checking terrorist watch lists. The first rule of that job is to ensure that travelers’ IDs are correct. Prior to this, the airlines had been handling the watch list function.
The TSA rolled out its implementation plan first with four airlines, but will be adding all of the airlines by the Secure Flight launch date. Eventually, the TSA will automate the ID process to speed things up.