2017 Will Be Pivotal Year For Airport ID Rules

2017 Will Be Pivotal Year For Airport ID Rules

by Richard D’Ambrosio / December 19, 2016

2017 Will Be Pivotal Year For Airport ID Rules
2017 Will Be Pivotal Year For Airport ID Rules


2017 Will Be Pivotal Year For Airport ID Rules

Why will 2017 Will Be Pivotal Year For Airport ID Rules? More than half of the states in America remain non-compliant with new domestic commercial air service ID regulations, as little more than 12 months remain before the rules will be implemented.

During a webinar sponsored by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) last week, Howard Goldman, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) senior counselor, said that 2017 will be a year for agents to stay informed as various deadlines must be met to ensure that state-issued IDs will be compliant by Jan. 22, 2018.

State-issued driver’s licenses are the most common form of ID used to board a domestic commercial airline flight. After Jan. 22, 2018, any domestic commercial air traveler from a state that is not in compliance will be denied boarding. Some of the country’s most populous states, including California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas, are in various stages of becoming compliant with what the TSA calls its Real ID program.

“As we start getting closer to implementation, travel agents will have to do a little bit more to inform travelers,” Goldman said. This might include linking an agent’s website to TSA’s Real ID website so travelers can be informed about their state’s compliance, and alternative forms of ID that they can use if their state remains non-compliant.

Real ID is a regulation that came out of the final 9/11 commission report, and was designed to help prevent terrorists from boarding commercial airline flights with fake IDs. The commission found that state standards varied on how individuals were screened before an ID was issued, how databases were managed, and protections on how IDs like drivers licenses are produced.
Travel agents clearly remain concerned about the developments. Attendance topped out at approximately 450 for the webinar, ASTA said.

Eben Peck, ASTA senior vice president of government and industry affairs, noted how with different states remaining non-compliant, and in various stages of either resisting the Real ID program or trying to comply with it, there is ample room for consumer confusion. “This is going to be more and more in the news as the deadline nears,” Peck said.

June 5 deadline crucial for four states
One upcoming deadline is June 5, 2017, when TSA “extensions” expire for four states who have demonstrated an attempt to comply with the regulation.

Alaska, California, Oregon and Virginia will need to seek further extensions if they don’t meet certain requirements by that date. Goldman said there is no way to predict how each state will progress to meet that deadline.

If they do not comply, residents will be denied entry to federal facilities, like nuclear power plants, military bases, and even the White House for adult citizens seeking a tour. They will still be allowed to board domestic commercial flights with their IDs however.

Confusion reigns due to misinformation and state compliance variations
Goldman noted how many states have passed legislation to resist participating in Real ID due to ideological reasons. Others have demonstrated no progress in complying. Currently, nine states, including Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington, are operating with no extensions.

ASTA has been working with agents and state legislatures to assist in compliance, or at a minimum, inform residents of where the states are in complying with Real ID and what domestic travelers’ alternatives are.

Peck mentioned that in Minnesota, ASTA “worked with members on a grass-roots campaign to fix this. I expect we’ll be doing that again if deadlines don’t move. Reach out to ASTA if you are in” a state that is not working toward compliance, Peck said.

During the webinar, Goldman tried to debunk misinformation and myths about the Real ID program. For example, he said that Real ID does not affect boarding cruise ships for domestic itineraries, or rail travel.

He also was asked if the new Trump administration and Republican control of the Congress might overturn or alter the regulation. “We just have to see how the next administration views it,” Goldman said. “There is an ideological discussion about it imposing on civil liberties. It could go either way. From our standpoint we have to act as if it is going to be implemented” on the current schedule.

Additionally, Goldman noted that living in a non-compliant state doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives for airline passengers. For example, a U.S. passport is an acceptable alternative to a driver’s license, but Goldman said only about 40% of U.S. citizens have a passport.

Re-posted from Travelmarket by Blair Prestin, CSS, Caribbean Ship and Shore

I strongly urge everyone to obtain a passport, whether you travel or not.