Have photo id, just not the original... now how I am supposed to get on the plane?
July 20, 2008 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Will airport security/Virgin America let me get on my domestic US flight if I only have a photocopy of my photo ID?

I'll be flying from San Francisco to San Diego on Tuesday and just realized that I will not have my usual photo ID with me that day.

Here's the situation: I had a name change (just the first name) a few years ago, but never bothered to change my name on my driver's license (I know, I know... I'll be making the trip down to the DMV very soon to do that). I've been using my passport, which does reflect my name change, as my form of identification whenever I've flown since.

However, I'm applying for a Brazilian tourist visa tomorrow and they'll want to hold on to my passport until the visa is processed. There is absolutely no way that will happen before I get on my flight, and I have to apply for that visa tomorrow. Will a photocopy of my passport suffice for a photo ID when I get through airport security? Or will I have to suck it up and go through the secondary screening as this previous askmefi poster did?
posted by agenais to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
take your id with the wrong name and something that proves the name was changed as well as a photocopy of your passport. chances are you'll go through the secondary screening just because things are odd with your check in, but you had a chance of having to do that anyway if you happened to be one of the random people picked for the screening.
posted by nadawi at 2:33 PM on July 20, 2008

Call the airline and ask. 1.877.FLY.VIRGIN
posted by sondrialiac at 2:43 PM on July 20, 2008

* The rules have changed recently, FYI, so I wouldn't rely on old askmes.
posted by sondrialiac at 2:44 PM on July 20, 2008

The new announcement from the TSA regarding passengers who refuse to show ID states that "this new procedure will not affect passengers that may have misplaced, lost or otherwise do not have ID but are cooperative with officers". So it seems that I'll be okay with my photocopied passport as long as I play nice with the TSA agents. Awesome. The old askme was posted after the announcement, so I guess I should just resign myself to the idea of extra screening.

I'll assume that photocopy of ID = slightly better than having no ID at all but not by that much.

Thanks for the quick answers, guys!
posted by agenais at 3:04 PM on July 20, 2008

don't call the airline, call the airport. the TSA agents don't work for the airline.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:27 PM on July 20, 2008

IANYAR - I am not your airline representative.

Long story short: No, there's no way to avoid this secondary screening unless you can come up with some sort of actual, original copy photo ID who's name reflects the name on the boarding pass. Original photo ID plus record of name change (marriage certificate, naturalization papers with an Americanized name, official name change documentation from the courts/government, divorce papers) usually works just fine, and will avoid the selectee process.

Call the airline and tell them what's going on - You have an ID, and it's yet to be updated with a new name. Leave the passport business out of it as it really doesn't matter. My airline's policy is to enter notes (SSR - Special Request) indicating the discrepancy in the name. Sometimes, this is enough to avoid the secondary screening. And in some cases, I can outright change the name, especially if it's a variant name (Sue to Susan, Jake to Jacob, Jim to James). If it's a full-blown namechange, it may not be possible though.

If all else fails, at least with my particular airline, so long as you can provide at least credible evidence you are who you say you are, you'll receive your boarding pass. This boarding pass, however, will be graced with SSSS in marker - Marking you as a manual selectee for additional security screening. You will be pestered by security, your carryon hand-inspected and you'll probably be frisked. I'd allow an additional half hour to an hour for this process.
posted by Rendus at 3:34 PM on July 20, 2008

Erp. In paragraph 1, I thought of the only exception after declaring there are no exceptions. The additional paperwork, in addition to the actual government-issued photo ID, works quite frequently (I've not heard of it failing to get someone onboard, although I don't have any information regarding how often they have to go through the secondary screening process).

And to add, my experiences are from a variety of airports over 3 years of working as a travel agent and directly for an airline. Most airlines have a standardized process for it, and the TSA has a great deal of discretion in this regard - Don't act overly nervous, and be straightforward with everything, and you'll minimize any chances of complications.
posted by Rendus at 3:40 PM on July 20, 2008

Unless they changed things recently, you're not required to have a license to fly. My GF had an expired license a couple months ago and they did "extra screening," but that was all.
posted by lubujackson at 3:43 PM on July 20, 2008

make sure you have several forms of id with your name on it and i imagine you will be all set. last weekend friends of mine boarded their flight before realized they had accidently switched tickets. not once during the security check or boarding process did anyone question the fact that they were carrying tickets with completely the wrong name.
posted by phil at 4:16 PM on July 20, 2008

The TSA rules, as explained on their page, says everything you need to know. I would print that out and keep it in my pocket when you go. Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of giving your opinion on the whole security screening process. I flew out of Houston recently and someone dared to say it was all "security theater" anyway. A man in line asked him what he meant and he explained it to the guy; he was taken aside and double and triple checked. "Security theater" is a fairly new term, but a description can be found here. I tend to agree that's what it is, but ---don't question. Just do as they say - and they say losing or misplacing the license is not grounds for anything serious - so go with it.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 4:24 PM on July 20, 2008

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