Airlines Asking for More Personal Info

August 24, 2009
Michael Sheehan

The TSA's Secure Flight program will ask you for your date of birth and gender for screening purposes. How will this affect the check-in process?

To help prevent suspected terrorists from boarding airline flights, the Transportation Security Administration keeps a watch list of about 16,000 names. Get your name on that list and you could be barred from getting on the plane or subjected to an extra rigorous security check. The agency has been criticized, however, for not allowing fliers to board who have names that are the same or even similar to ones on the list.

To make it easier for the TSA to match travelers with the names on the list, some airlines have begun to ask potential passengers on domestic flights for their date of birth and their gender before issuing a boarding pass. The program, known as Secure Flight, is a response to Congressional directives aimed at meeting recommendations made by the 2001 commission that investigated the 9/11 attacks. Airlines are also requiring passengers who make reservations to give their names exactly as they appear on the government-issued ID documents, such as passports, that are needed to board the plane. By early next year, the TSA hopes to have all passengers on domestic flights pre-screened under the Secure Flight program.

The good news for harried travelers is that the TSA claims the additional security measures won’t translate to additional time at airport security check lines. However, those who need gate passes that allow them to attend to a passenger in secure areas of the terminal may also be asked for their DOB and gender.