Starting Monday, you'll have to provide your full name, birthday and gender when purchasing an airline ticket to comply with the new TSA Secure Flight program. And you'd better be sure there isn't a typo in your name.
The program was put into place to verify every passenger's identity against TSA watch lists. What does this mean for travelers this week? You should be prepared for longer lines, potential delays and some scrutiny (either of yourself or other passengers on the security line).
If you purchased your tickets in advance, before this disclosure was required, and didn't provide that information when you booked your trip, you won't be in compliance with the new 72-hour advance notice requirement when you get to the airport. But we're still not sure what the airlines will do when faced with inadvertent scofflaws.
"To my knowledge, none of the major airlines have provided information about how they will handle passengers who arrive at the airport with an incomplete record and a flight to catch," Andrew Weinstein of the Interactive Travel Services Association told me via e-mail yesterday. "The TSA has said they will accept the data at check-in, despite the 72-hour advance requirement, but none of the major airlines seem to have shared anything about how those issues will be handled at the airport," he added.
A notice on the Delta website states, "If you do not provide this information prior to 72 hours before your scheduled departure, your flight reservation may be cancelled." According to Weinstein, "this may cause some confusion and angst among travelers who don't know whether they can board their flights."
American Airline's website has a similar warning, in bold font: "You will be unable to travel without providing the following information. Full Name (first, middle and last name, as it appears on the non-expired government-issued photo ID that you will use when traveling), Date of Birth, Gender, Redress Number (if applicable)."
Likewise, United's alert: "Failure to provide your Secure Flight information may result in denial of transportation."
So, what to do? Weinstein shared these ITSA recommendations for avoiding delays and confusion at the airport if you're flying on or after Nov. 1:
1. Travelers who have not provided their TSA Secure Flight data (or are not sure if they have) should immediately visit the airline or online travel site for which they booked their tickets to enter or confirm that information.
2. Travelers who have provided their TSA Secure Flight data should check and confirm the spelling and middle name on their ticketed reservation to ensure it matches the ID they will be using at the airport. If it does not, they should correct the information as soon as possible.
3. Finally, those traveling in early November are encouraged to allow some extra time at the airport, as there may be delays as the airlines work to process travelers who have not provided that data in advance of check-in.