If you show up at the airport without a driver's...

If you show up at the airport without a driver's license or passport, you may still be able to board your flight. Credit: NYS DMV NEWS

After a night out in Chicago, Traci Fox woke up to discover that her wallet was missing. And she panicked.

Afraid she wouldn't be allowed on the plane, Fox phoned her father, who overnighted her passport.

There it is — one of the most enduring post-9/11 air travel myths. If you don't have a driver's license or passport, you can't fly. And while that's certainly true for international trips, where you need a passport to cross a border, it's not that way for domestic flights.

If you lost your ID, you'll probably freak out like Fox did. But the good news is you can still travel. And in the remote chance that you can't, there are still options.

Can you fly without an ID?

If you show up at the airport without a driver's license or passport, you may still be able to board your flight, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

TSA accepts several forms of ID, including a passport or a passport card; a trusted traveler card such as Global Entry or Nexus; and a Department of Defense ID. Also on the TSA's approved list: Tribal IDs, foreign passports, Veteran Health Identification Card and even Merchant Mariner Credentials.

If you don't have any of the accepted IDs, you'll be asked to show two alternative forms of ID. One of them must show your name and identifying information, such as a photo, address, phone number or Social Security number, according to the TSA.

If you don't have any acceptable alternate form of ID, a TSA employee will ask you to complete an identity verification process by filling out a TSA Form 415.

What if they don't let you through security?

Even if you're turned away at the security screening area, you still have options. Most airlines have an unofficial "flat tire" rule that allows you to get rebooked on the next available flight at no extra charge. The rule, which gets its name from passengers who miss a flight because they have a flat tire, could also apply to a lost ID. .

Options for travelers who've lost their IDs

There may be a new way to handle a lost ID: Three states — Arizona, Maryland and Colorado — now allow you to use digital IDs on your Apple devices such as iPhones or Apple Watch via the Apple Wallet app. At least two other states, Florida and Louisiana, have a digital ID option for driver's licenses.

TSA accepts mobile driver's licenses in some airports, including Baltimore, Dallas and Las Vegas, but their use is limited to travelers who are enrolled in TSA PreCheck and opted in to using a digital ID.


Can you check into a hotel or rent a car without an ID?

Even if you board the plane, you might have some trouble checking into your hotel or renting a car when you arrive. Many properties require both a valid government ID and the original credit card used to make the booking to check in.

But there are ways around that, too.

Some chain hotels have fully automated check-in processes. If you're a member of the hotel's loyalty program, you can check in without an ID, using a confirmation number or the hotel company's app. Similarly, being a member of a car rental company's loyalty program means your driver's license and credit card are stored in its system.

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