Tuesday, August 7, 2012

You Lost Your Wallet - Flying with No ID, Credit Cards, etc.

If You've Lost Your Wallet, File a Police Report

I took for granted how much a police report could help you in a situation like this. It's one of the
initial questions the Airtran employee asked me. She was so serious about the police report that she
insisted I go file one with the local authorities at the airport. Lucky for me, they were unavailable
due to how early in the morning it was. I walked back through the double doors with a concerned look on my face; the look of a lost child. Once I heard her summon me back to the kiosk, I knew I'd caught a break. She made several phone calls to headquarters to ensure I could still fly under the circumstances. After receiving an ear full about why I should have filed the police report, her being intermittently put on hold for extended periods of time, and me putting on my best impression of a stranded adolescent, I was good to go. Sandra, the Airtran employee that so diligently worked to get me on my flight back to Washington, was also kind enough to let me know that I'd go through additional screening once I encroached the security checkpoint. If you've flown before, you know that getting past the front counter is only half the battle. Three letters...TSA. I got the same question once I made it to the security checkpoint. "Do you have a police report sir?". It was then that I realized how much of a burden it would have removed from the entire process.

So why didn't I file that report right off the bat? Don't ask....

The Social Security Number is a Lie

If you're trying to fly with no identification, at no point should anyone request your social security number (not even the last for digits). Not TSA, not whomever you booked your flight with, not anyone. I was eager to give out my number in some form or fashion. Whatever it took for me to prove that I'm Antwan Wimberly. I just knew someone would ask me for it. And to my surprise, no one did. They've got other means of verifying your identity. Knowing this up front can alleviate that much more pressure.

Documents with your Name on them will Help

In addition to numerous questions that you'll be hit with by TSA, believe it or not, they actually want to see you fly. They'll try and work with you. The officer asked me did I have any documents with my name on them. I immediately replied with "no", assuming she meant something issued by a public authority. But TSA uses the term documents loosely. It can be anything. A receipt, an old boarding pass, whatever you can show them. So don't be shy when it comes to filtering through you backpack for anything you can find with your name on it. The more, the better.

Be Prepared for Additional Questions and Screening by TSA

Did you think it'd be that easy? Haha..not quite. You'll be hit with numerous questions before they allow you to proceed to your final destination. I won't cover the questions here due to security reasons, but you'll be able to trivially answer them if you are indeed who you say you are. You'll have to fill out a form stating that you're aware that providing false information is a crime. It wont' take you long at all. Once you're done with the form and answering any questions TSA has for you, they'll send you through for additional screening along with the normal protocol (body scan,  putting your items on the conveyer belt, etc.). Don't be frightened by the term additional screening. All it means is that they'll physically pat you down as a precautionary measure. They'll also take samples from anything you're carrying (shoes, backpack, etc.) and run it through a database. It's not that bad though. You should be on your way in no time.

Get There Early

You'll want to arrive to the airport at least 2 hours early. You'll need the extra buffer to account for the additional questioning and screening that you'll be exposed to. So don't get careless and show up an hour before your flight thinking that everything is going to go smoothly. You should expect a hiccup or two and have enough time to recover.

Be Polite

The last thing you want to do is piss someone off. They want to help you, but giving a reason not to do so could result in you missing your flight. These people will have to make phone go and take additional measures to ensure that you can fly. They're working a lot harder than they're used to, and all they want is to be appreciated. If you feel like they're giving you a hard time or your being bombarded with tons of questions, don't panic. Keep your cool and push your ego to the side. They can't make it look like flying without an id isn't frowned upon or won't be met with resistance. How much they sale this depends on their personality. Sandra was pretty tough to start out with, but she eventually loosened up and hopped on the phone for me. As I mentioned earlier, she was even convinced that I should show them a police report. Just know that they'll come around. Express concern and gratitude. I'm not saying that you have to suck up or kiss anyone's ass, but be careful about pushing back once the storm of interrogatives commences.

A Checked Bag will Mike Life a Little Harder

You want to know what made Sandra as upset as she was? The fact that I was trying to check a bag. I always fly with luggage, because I want to be comfortable when I travel and I hate wearing the same clothes over and over. That's just me. But this pesky habit almost lead to my demise. It made things more nuanced than they had to be. That extra wrinkle is what initiated the phone calls and all the waiting up front. She kept saying over and over that the fact that I had a checked bag was what she had a problem with. It wasn't aimed directly at me but was more so her thinking out loud. She knew I'd introduced more complexity and that she'd have to be the one to sort it all out. I'm not saying that you should blindly leave your luggage behind, but if you don't have any, then it'll probably expedite the process.

The Myths About Costco Cards are True

I was reading an article that mentioned that TSA would accept Costco cards as valid authentication since it has your photo ID on it. Costco isn't as trusted an authority as the DMV, but it can help you get through TSA. I heard the officer that was helping me ask another guy if he had a Costco card. I may have also even heard SAM's Club (I definitely heard it if they embed your photo onto your card like Costco does).

Cards in General Help as Well

This may be a no brainer, but Debit cards, credit cards, and others can also help you. TSA inquired about one and so did Sandra of Airtran. My only problem was that I'd lost EVERYTHING in one go. So no social security card, debit card, credit cards, etc. If you happen to have these things then you'll be much better off.

Be Careful About Curbside Checkin

The primary risk here is that well...you may get things out of synch. I don't exactly know how curbside checkin works, but from what I can tell you can get your boarding pass online. In theory you could go directly to TSA/security checkpoint. Say for instance you check your bags curbside but get rejected at the security checkpoint. All in all I think you'll be fine. But Delta did send my bags to Jacksonville when I clearly changed my flight to go to Atlanta. I was initially going there until I found out my grandmother was headed into the city. So I figured why not change? Next thing you know I've taken 2 trips to Duval over a span of like 5 hours. It was pretty hectic. This could no doubt be advantageous to you as you'll have one less dependency being able to bypass the guys at the front counter but at the same time you could be asking for it.

Courtesy of http://www.jaunted.com/

That's all folks...

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