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Birthday, Sex and Real Names Only, Please

August 15, 2009 – Today is the day that the TSA will require all passengers booking flights within the United States to provide their birth date and gender. In addition, the name you use when booking flights must match the name that appears on your ID more precisely.

The new regulations are part of the Secure Flight Program of the Transportation Security Administration and are supposed to work behind the scenes to improve security and reduce misidentification of people on terrorist watchlists.

I had no idea whether the name on my driver’s license and my passport were exact and when I checked I wasn’t surprised that they didn’t exactly match. My driver’s license only shows my middle initial whereas my passport shows my full name.

The TSA claims that minor differences like that shouldn’t be a problem but that the public should strive, as time goes on, to have all of their IDs match. And going forward, you won’t be issued a boarding pass if your name comes up on the no fly watchlist, so in this age of advanced technology and pre-check-in, you’ll probably be aware of that before you get to the airport.

Airlines are phasing in these requirements as their systems are upgraded to handle the new information and so far Delta and AirTran are collecting the information starting today. By early next year all domestic flights on all airlines will require passengers to divulge the additional info. On international flights into, out of and over the U.S. the goal is the end of 2010. Answers to the most common questions passengers may have about this program can be found on the TSA website.

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