Sometimes getting on a plane these days can feel like you’re entering Fort Knox.
Belts off, shoes off, computers out –oh, and don’t forget the multiple ID checks.
But one writer at Map Happy, a website that gives travelers tips and information, recently discovered that a trip to the airport without a government-issued ID doesn’t always spell disaster.
Erica Ho writes how she lost her ID right before a flight, and instead of missing her departure altogether, she decided roll the dice and go to the airport with her Costco card, which just so happens to have her picture on it.
Ho told her tale of woe to Transportation Security Administration agents at the airport, where she showed them the Costco card and some credit cards bearing her name. She was then moved aside for a secondary screening and pat down. And that was it.
According to the TSA website, “Adult passengers 18 and over must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint in order to travel.” The list includes:
-U.S. passport card
-DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
-U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
-Permanent resident card
-Border crossing card
-DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
-Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent) for the sole purpose of identification
-Native American tribal photo ID
-HSPD-12 PIV card
-Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
-Foreign government-issued passport
-Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
-Transportation Worker Identification Credential
Not on the list is a Costco card.
But a government-issued ID is not mandated by law when passing through security, and travelers can use other things besides a Costco card, including utility bills, prescriptions and credit cards.
The TSA blog notes that the problem is not uncommon and there is a work-around.
"You’ll be able to fly as long as you provide us with some information that will help us determine you are who you say you are," wrote Bob Burns from the TSA blog team.
Ho hasn’t been the first to try this experiment.
In 2013, ABC’s KPIX 5 sent an undercover producer on several flights without official documentation. In every case, the producer was allowed to pass through security using a student ID and personal credit cards and was not subject to a secondary screening before gaining entrance to the terminal.