T.S.A. to Restrict Rules on Names Early Next Year

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Early next year, the next phase of the Transportation Security Administration's "Secure Flight" identity matching program will begin matching names on airline-issued boarding passes with passenger IDs at security checkpoints, according to a November 9th report in the New York Times. The new passenger verification measures will occur after airlines fully streamline reservations and other customer information, The Times reports.

In May, the T.S.A. asked passengers to make airline reservations under the name exactly as it is issued on government identification. In other words, a passenger whose passport reads "Johnathan Q. Smith" yet goes by "John Smith" should make airline reservations under Johnathan Q. Smith to avoid potential security screening delays. In August, the program entered another public phase of requiring airlines to include gender and date of birth information when booking a flight. The information is to be used to help differentiate between passengers on government security lists. According to the program's Frequently Asked Questions, frequent flyer accounts should also include exactly the same name as boarding passes and identification.

In the meantime, passengers with slight variations between names printed on boarding passes shouldn't expect delays in security checkpoints, The Times reports. The T.S.A.'s director of Secure Flight, Paul Leyh, told The Times, "We do understand there are slight variations in the way airlines book their reservations and print their boarding passes." He added that variations between names on an ID and a boarding pass "should not delay the passenger's travel."

If a passenger has a boarding pass with a truncated or contorted name, it will be up to the discretion of the T.S.A screener to verify the identity of the passenger by matching the ID with the boarding pass, The Times reports.

Accurate passenger information when booking a flight enhances the T.S.A.'s ability to match a passenger's identity with names on government's security watch list, reports The Times. According to the report, the Secure Flight process of vetting and matching airline passengers names with T.S.A. watch list information occurs behind the scenes, before passengers arrive at the airport. Passengers are clear once they receive a boarding pass, according to The Times.

The T.S.A.'s Secure Flight initiative was developed to minimize passenger delays caused by additional security screenings when a passenger's name closely resembles or matches a name on the government's list, reports The Times. According to the newspaper, the problem of identification is small but widely publicized.

The FBI's terrorist watch list includes 400,000 unique names and over a million entries, according to a November 1st report in the The Washington Post. The newspaper also reports fewer than 5 percent of the people on the list are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Nine percent of the list is also on the government's "no fly" list, reports The Washington Post. Passenger's who feel their names are mistakenly on the list can file for redress through the T.S.A.
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