Traveling tommorow and have lost my photo id. What to do?
June 30, 2008 3:45 PM   Subscribe

I have likely lost my drivers license and am traveling tomorrow morning. I'm with the family and am planning on contacting the airline and arriving early. But need some advice on what else to do to make sure I make it home.

I have all my other id (credit cards, etc., although the only photo id I have is for a Costco card. Unfortunately, no other "govt. issued" id.). It's likely that my license was put into another bag and is thousands of miles away, so I'm not filing a police report which some online articles have suggested.

I'm flying on American from California to Boston and there's a transfer in Dallas (it's possible I will have to go through security here again, as we did this on the beginning trip).

Besides showing up early and being real nice, any advice on how to manage this?
posted by jeremias to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Call right now and ask the airline.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 3:49 PM on June 30, 2008

First, yes...definitely call.

Once you're there, if you are female and under 30, only go to the middle-aged male airport workers. And then be super polite and look sad. (This sounds terrible, but it's worked for me twice now.)
posted by phunniemee at 3:53 PM on June 30, 2008

Best answer: This happened to me last year and I had absolutely no problems at all -- wasn't even selected for secondary security screening. Your experience may vary. I got to the airport plenty early and explained to the airline. It happens more than we think.
posted by proj at 3:55 PM on June 30, 2008

you might be interested in The Great No ID Airport Challenge
posted by milestogo at 3:56 PM on June 30, 2008

...which makes it seem like things wont be so bad. But like people have said, that was when a reporter was present.
posted by milestogo at 3:57 PM on June 30, 2008

Traveling without ID
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:59 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here author Tim Ferriss outlines what he did when his wallet was stolen right before flying, including printing a scanned letter from the TSA to Senator John Warner that outlines protocol for flying without ID.
posted by sharkfu at 4:01 PM on June 30, 2008

Latest regs rom the TSA. Sounds like the big thing is to be "co-operative" with the "additional screening." Get there early.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:15 PM on June 30, 2008

Best answer: I've seen people go through this in the TSA line, and while the TSA are nothing if not arbitrary, the ones I saw had to go through the air puff booth and get an extra pat down, and that was it. That's at SFO, FWIW.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:18 PM on June 30, 2008

Best answer: (Personal experience: my wife had to do this in 2005 or 2006 and it was fine.) All you need to do is be prepared to show other ID (credit cards are fine) to the airline to confirm that you're you. And then TSA reserves the right to subject you to secondary screening. This is exactly the same as when you have a 4 oz shampoo bottle or weird electronic device in your bag. They open your bag. They pat you down. You're set. You might get the explosives-on-your-bag-zipper machine or the "puffer" (the dread puffer). But it's not a big deal.

You do not need to present gov't issued ID to fly in the U.S.

Apparently, you might, but it's such a secret law that the TSA is not going to screw up the law's secrecy to show it to you to prove that it's a real law. So your're good to travel.

Oh, and be polite. One should always be polite. But be extra polite.
posted by zpousman at 4:18 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My grandmother just flew 4 times in the past month with an expired license, and they just gave her extra screening. Just politely inform the airline and TSA workers that you lost your ID. You will likely have to go secondary screening (such as a manual bag search and pat-down body search) but it shouldn't take a huge amount of time. That said, go early anyway just in case; if the lines are long and there are lots of people getting secondaries it might take some extra time.
posted by bedhead at 5:02 PM on June 30, 2008

Robert Angelo is right. Starting a week or two ago, TSA is enforcing a new procedure for people without ID. Ignore any advice based on experience prior to mid June. Things have changed, and you WILL have to go through the new process.

Arrive early, be friendly. Let them know that you lost your ID, and that you are NOT trying to take a stand or exercise your civil liberties or anything of the sort (sigh).

You will have to go through some additional screening, and may have to go through the background check process that is described in JohnnyGunn's link. TSA has contracted with a firm that generates questions based on the same type of information used in background screening. They will ask you to confirm a prior street address, phone number or similar info.

Be early, be friendly, and you'll be fine.
posted by i love cheese at 5:10 PM on June 30, 2008

A birth certificate or social security card may help, even though it has no picture.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:23 PM on June 30, 2008

Is there a possibility of going to the DMV and getting a replacement? Here in Illinois it took me 45 minutes from application to having the license in my hands. Just a thought.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:02 AM on July 1, 2008

Best answer: I had an expired license at LAX last year and they just made me go through the secondary screening. On the plus side, I got to skip the long line for security and go straight to the front. It made me want to keep my expired license solely for flying.
posted by bertrandom at 9:22 AM on July 1, 2008

Response by poster: I was able to travel without any problems. Here is what happened. I arrived 90 minutes earlier than I would have otherwise. In the first check-in line I explained to security that my license was lost. My alternative ids satisfied them (credit card and a Costco card which had a low-res photo on it), they marked my boarding pass and told me I would have to go through secondary screening. I'm not sure what would have happened if I had absolutely *no* id, though. My sense is that there is still a lot of individual discretion, if the agent wanted to make my life difficult, she could have.

At the next stop the TSA agent at the metal detector had me go into the secondary screening area where I was first patted down and then a second agent examined my bag, including using some wet-wipe looking pads which he primarily used on my laptop and external hard drive, some sort of explosive detecting material is my guess. They put a sticker on my boarding pass which validated to the airline checking agent that I went through the process.

All, in all, the whole thing perhaps delayed me 5 to 10 minutes.

So, no background check process at all. However, I was flying through Ontario, CA airport which is relatively small and was not terribly busy. All the TSA folk were actually very nice, however I'm a frequent traveler and I think I just lucked out. I don't think it would have been as easy in a busier airport and/or if I had absolutely no id at all.

My guess is to safeguard against this in the future (aside from not losing id in the first place) I would have either photocopies or scanned versions that I could print if need be. This would seem to provide some level of proof.
posted by jeremias at 10:34 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

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