Know Before You Go

Much has been said about the TSA’s full-body screenings at airports, but now that the busiest travel day of the year is in the books, most people have come to the conclusion that the majority of the hype was due to overzealous media outlets.

Still, if you plan to fly anytime during the remainder of the busy holiday travel period (roughly from now until January 3, 2011) there are a few things you should know before you head to the airport. For example, full-body screening is still optional, though the price for opting out is enduring a rigorous pat-down procedure, which involves TSA agents sliding their hands up and down your body and coming in direct contact with your breasts, buttocks and groin areas. Either way, you won’t be getting through an airport’s security checkpoint quickly if you refuse to cooperate.

Another must-consider factor when flying on commercial airlines is proper identification. As of November 1, 2010, airline passengers can no longer print out boarding passes unless their reservation includes their gender, date of birth and name as it appears on their government-issued photo ID. The new restriction is part of “Secure Flight,” a TSA program designed to prevent people on the government’s No Fly list from boarding commercial aircrafts.

The new rule means that even the smallest differences in your name could make a big difference. While an initial vs. a full middle name, won’t be cause for alarm, if your name is Margaret and your ID shows the name Peggy, then you’ll likely have problems. Ditto if your legal name is John, but your ID reads Jack.

If you bought your ticket before November 1st, it’s a good idea to contact your airline to ensure it has the correct information. In addition, make sure your other personal information is correct, such as your birthdate.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.