Airline passengers facing stricter security rules
Posted November 1, 2010 3:21 p.m. EDT
Updated November 1, 2010 6:48 p.m. EDT
Morrisville, N.C. — Airport security got a little more personal Monday as new federal rules went into effect that will affect every airline passenger. The changes have been rolled out over the past several months.
At Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s Terminal 2, Matthew Sherman knows the security routine by now.
“I fly about once a month, so I’m used to it,” he said.
But beginning Monday, Sherman and every other airline passenger has to provide some extra information before they get on board. It's a new Transportation Security Administration program called “Secure Flight.”
The program is a behind-the-scenes effort by the TSA to better match potential terrorists with watch lists. It requires airlines to collect a passenger’s full name, birth date and gender at booking. Passengers who don’t provide that information at least 72 hours before a flight won’t be issued a boarding pass.
“When passengers book their flight, they provide this information to the TSA, who then checks that against their no-fly list,” said RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin.
Most airlines have been collecting the data for several months, so passengers who bought a ticket in the past year should be fine. But they should check their reservations to make sure the airline has the extra information.
“If they did not provide that information, they can contact the airline now and then provide that information, or they can do it when they get to the ticket counter,” Hamlin said.
Here are some suggestions to ensure you’re not denied a boarding pass or held up at security:
- Check for misspellings on your ticket. Contact the airline if you find an error.
- Don’t use nicknames when booking. Using “Maggie” instead of “Margaret” might hold you up.
- If you recently got married or changed your name, book your flight under the same name that’s listed on your driver’s license or passport.
- Pay attention to detail: If your name is listed as “John C. Doe” on your ID, don’t fill out “John Christopher Doe” when you book. A discrepancy like that will probably be resolved, but even the smallest difference could lead a security agent at the airport to do a double-take, slowing you down.
The TSA estimates that only about 1 percent of travelers won’t make it through security because of a discrepancy, TSA spokesman Nick Kimball says.
There’s another change to TSA rules. If a passenger sets off an alarm in security or refuses to go through the full-body scanner, they’ll get a pat-down from a TSA screener – a new, more aggressive pat-down that involves them sliding their hands around the passenger’s body.
Not everyone is OK with the new pat-down procedures. The American Civil Liberties Union has complained, saying the new method is too invasive. The group is collecting complaints from passengers.