Story of flying without ID


Sherri Davidoff wrote about what it was like to go through airport security without identification. The TSA kept telling her, “you need to have identification to pass through security,” but they eventually let her get on the plane. Here's here analysis of the experience:

• Recall that to indicate that I required extra screening, staff wrote in red Sharpie on my boarding pass. If I had simply printed off a second boarding pass at home, I could have presented that instead of the marked one, and gone through the metal detector as usual. In other words, passengers without ID can travel without undergoing any extra screening other than “identity verification.” A lawyer friend of mine commented that “if TSA marked ‘SSSS’ on a person’s hand rather than a piece if paper…the airport’s security would at least be as good as a bar’s.”

• Since the answers to the identification verification questions are so widely known, someone could easily have impersonated me and traveled under my name. Many people know that I lived in New Mexico, and the name of the street where I used to live. As a private citizen, I would much rather that the TSA allow anonymous travel than create a system where identity “verification” is required, but it is very easy to impersonate other people.

• Real attackers will just use fake IDs or identities and pass through unnoticed. Thanks to the age restrictions on alcohol, America has a flourishing ID forgery and resale industry, and faking federal identification is not difficult.

• It’s interesting to know that there’s an on-call system which TSA agents can use to do a quick background check on passengers. What information is in this system? If an attacker were to remember or record the numbers used by the TSA officer during the call, could they later gain access?

Flying Without a Wallet (philosecurity. Thanks, Lovro!)