Monday, October 17, 2011

Will I be allowed to check in for my flight without a photo ID?

It's possible. However, there are no guarantees. As most travelers are aware, airports across the globe have heightened security measures in recent years. Airports now mandate that all passengers over the age of 18 present a government-issued form of photo identification such as a military ID, driver's license, or passport at time of check-in. It's best to call your airline and speak to a customer-service representative about its specific policies. Keep in mind that some carriers may be more lenient than others. (And please be aware that international travel may necessitate additional forms of identification and immigration documents, such as a passport.)

Some airlines we contacted, including Southwest Airlines and United, insisted that all passengers must present a government- or state-issued photo ID at check-in--no ifs, ands, or buts. But other carriers are a bit more flexible. For example, Continental Airlines said two alternative forms of identification would most likely suffice, and suggested bringing along any or all of the following to improve your chances of getting on board: a voter registration card, employee identification card, insurance identification card, credit cards issued in your name (cards with your photo are best), birth certificate, or a social-security card.

Another option is acquiring a state-issued ID. Unfortunately, it may take up to 60 days for one to arrive in your mailbox. But if you have more time on your hands you should contact your state's department of motor vehicles to inquire about obtaining a photo ID card for use in case your license ever goes missing. While this card will not allow you to legally drive in your state, it is a legal form of identification accepted by the airlines. To obtain this type of ID, you'll usually need to furnish a birth certificate, social-security number, and a small fee to your local motor-vehicle department.

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