Case dismissed: No ID? No flight

J. Gillula had a Southwest Airlines ticket from Oakland, Calif., to Baltimore last year. But he didn’t have his ID.

That shouldn’t have been a problem, at least according to the TSA. It allows passengers who don’t have identification to undergo a secondary screening.

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But it was a problem.

After a long wait, and an interrogation by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, a Southwest airlines employee approached me and told me that I would not be able to fly that day.

When I asked who it was — the TSA or Southwest — that was denying me the right to travel, she clearly indicated that Southwest was denying me boarding, in the presence of several TSA employees who made no attempt to correct her.

I was then escorted back to the ticket counter, where the Southwest employee processed a refund for my round trip ticket; she did not, however, make any attempt to re-book me or provide me with alternate transportation.

That doesn’t seem right to Gillula, who believes Southwest shouldn’t have turned him down and owes him compensation for being denied boarding.

I know that if the reason for denying me boarding had been different (i.e. if the flight had been overbooked) then I would have been due additional compensation under federal law; it doesn’t seem to make sense that denying me compensation under this instance would be any different. For the record, the amount I have been asking for is precisely the amount I would be due had the flight been overbooked.

That sounds reasonable. TSA should have allowed him to board, and if Southwest wrongfully denied him boarding, it should compensate him. Right?

Well, I asked Southwest about his case. It reviewed all of its records relating to his incident. Here’s what it had to say:

All three files clearly state that it was the TSA who denied him boarding, not Southwest, because of their inability to verify his identity. A Customer Service Supervisor in Oakland processed the refund of his tickets because the TSA would not allow him to fly.

Customer Relations had our General Counsel department review his third request for additional compensation and our response to Jeremy and believe that Customer Relations handled the issue appropriately.

Specifically, and this was explained to him in our response, he was not permitted to fly by the TSA and his ticket was refunded by Southwest because he was not able to verify his identify per DOT Regulations 14 CFR Part 250.

The consistency through all is that our records maintain it was TSA’s call. I know this is not the answer he was seeking, but if he cannot verify his identify to satisfy the TSA, he is not due additional compensation (other than the refund of his roundtrip ticket, which he did receive) from the airline on which he’d hoped to fly.

I ran that answer past Gillula. Here’s his reaction:

It sounds like they’re changing their story, since in my last conversation with a Southwest employee (which I recorded since I was afraid something like this might happen), she admitted (several times) that it was Southwest who denied me boarding. If you want a copy or transcript of the recording, just let me know.

The Southwest employee did say they denied me boarding at the TSA’s request, but I still don’t understand why Southwest had to get involved at all. After all, if the TSA didn’t want me to fly then all they would have to do is keep me from going through the checkpoint. Why would they need to bring a Southwest agent over and have her tell me she was denying me boarding?

Additionally, Southwest’s claim that I was “not permitted to fly by the TSA and [my] ticket was refunded by Southwest because [I] was not able to verify [my] identify per DOT Regulations 14 CFR Part 250” is completely bogus. DOT Regulations 14 CFR Part 250 is the chapter on oversales (which doesn’t apply because, as they said, the flight wasn’t oversold) and doesn’t even contain the words “identity” or “identification.”

This is a disappointing outcome for both of us. I had hoped Southwest would compensate him for denied boarding, and thought he had a strong case.

I was wrong.

For the rest of you reading this, remember to bring your ID to the airport when you fly. You don’t want this to happen to you.

191 thoughts on “Case dismissed: No ID? No flight

  1. Sounds like a classic case of finding somebody else to blame for your mistake, as I’m pretty sure TSA will place the blame with Southwest.

    What a joke of a system.

    1. Agree, sounds like the passenger is trying to blame TSA or Southwest for not bringing ID to the airport.  Were they really surprised you need ID to board a commercial aircraft?  “Really, you need ID to fly?  When did they start THAT rule.” 

      Sorry dude, you’re lucky Southwest refunded your ticket.  And quit blaming everyone else for your boneheaded mistake – but I gotta give ’em kudos for having the guts to try to get denied boarding compensation!  Hey, you don’t ask, you don’t get.

      1. Funny, but I don’t think you’re agreeing with me at all.

        Twisting my words around entirely to make then what you want them to be? Yep, and I’ll ask that you not do it again.

        1. Actually, I thought Dallas4261 was agreeing with you as well. We know the person made the mistake of not bringing an ID. I’m not sure what mistake Southwest or TSA made but he wants something extra.

        2. Dallas was agreeing with you in that someone was trying to pass blame off on another.  He wasn’t twisting your words, he felt the letter writer was passing blame.  From your reaction, I’m assuming your original comment was directed solely towards Southwest and TSA. 

          1. Yes, it was. I thought that was obvious since I mentioned TSA and Southwest, but never the OP.

        3. We’re agreeing with you that blame is being passed, not with who is doing the passing. The only thing “twisted” here is your logic. Get over yourself!

      2. Federal law explicitly allows air travel without ID. I do think that getting trouble for not bringing ID to the airport is a predictable outcome. That said, I also feel strongly that it is not the place of Southwest Airlines OR of the TSA to put in place policies that are directly contrary to federal law. And no, this is not a provision that was slipped into some legislation as part of political bargaining – Congress deliberately passed a law guaranteeing freedom of movement in the US, with or without ID, as an extension of the right to assembly under the first amendment.

  2. sounds like semantics to me. of course Southwest is the one who denied him boarding. they are the ones with a plane to board. TSA does not have an aircraft. 
    TSA ultimately decides who goes on any commercial aircraft here, but they don’t do the “denied boarding” procedure themselves.  perhaps this is what the OP is getting confused.  yes, Southwest denied him boarding, at the direction on the TSA. they processed his denied boarding, it went into their report to DOT for the night, they document his PNR.
    so it IS Southwest’s denied boarding, because those are the steps they are required to take in these situations. that doesn’t mean he gets compensation from them!

    1. I agree that it’s Southwest that denied him boarding in this case, so they refunded his ticket and that’s all they were obligated to do.  What I don’t understand is why Southwest refunded his money when denying him boarding but refused to refund my money when they denied me boarding.  I had plans to fly to see my sister in Austin last Christmas, but those plans had to be cancelled after the TSA’s sexual humiliation campaign was revealed –  because I don’t engage in sexual activities with strangers in blue uniforms at the TSA checkpoint.  I don’t pose for naked pictures that strange men ogle in pornography rooms, and I don’t let unknown people rub my genitals.  Therefore, I can no longer fly in the United States.  When I went to the airport on the day of my flight and told Southwest that I was refusing TSA screening, they would not refund my ticket even though their contract of carriage clearly states that if I refuse screening they will deny boarding and refund my money.  Southwest simply didn’t want to set a precedent of refunding tickets for people who object to being stripped naked and sexually assaulted – they’d prefer everyone just shut up and take it.  Southwest didn’t follow its contract of carriage, so I filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation.  And again for the record – this was a ticket that I bought in August 2010 before the labia rubbing began. It’s a classic bait-and-switch to sell a ticket that involves traveling without sexual touching but then change the terms to include molesting me.  Oh, you wanted to buy this toaster?  I’ll charge your credit card first, then let you know it also looks through your clothes and sends nudie pics to our super-secret examination room.  Southwest Airlines is a moral zero for not standing up to the TSA’s gang of sexual abusers.

      1. It sounds to me like you are blaming Southwest for your beef with the TSA.  What exactly is Southwest supposed to do?  Shut themselves down until the TSA corrects the error of their ways?  Also, I searched the SW CoC for the word “screening” and can’t find where they owe you a refund for refusing to pass through the TSA checkpoint.  If the TSA refuses to let you fly, you get a refund, but not if you refuse to go through the checkpoint.

        If you were on a pre-paid Disney vacation, you don’t get a refund if the FL Turnpike raises it’s tolls.

        1. “What exactly is Southwest supposed to do?”

          Follow their own carriage of contract. But I guess that’s too much to ask.

          1. And if you refuse to go through screening, TSA refuses to allow you to fly. Pretty simple.

          2. I don’t think that counts.  You don’t get a refund on a pre-paid rental car if you refuse to get a driver’s license.

          3. They changed the screening process after I bought my ticket.  This is like getting a pre-paid rental car, and then after that the state declares that anyone who wants to drive must agree to have a finger amputated.  I refused to comply with a harmful co-requirement that was added AFTER I bought the ticket.

          4. In what way would the rental car company (vs Southwest) be responsible for a legal force majeure, beyond their control, such as prerequisites for driving (vs TSA procedures)? It sounds like you just wanted your money and didn’t actually care to fight for your principles. Moral zero?!

          5. I have been and I continue to fight for my principles.  I’ve written dozens of letters – to airlines, Congressional representatives, travel organizations, TSA itself, courts hearing arguments, state legislatures considering banning the TSA’s sexual abuses, to the newspaper, and more.  I’ve attended more than one anti-TSA rally, given money to organizations and individuals who fight the TSA in court, and stopped flying entirely.  Do you think that sounds like not fighting for my principles?  The main reason I wanted my money back is that I wanted the airlines to feel how much their businesses were being hurt by the TSA’s pointless sexual humiliation of their paying customers.  And yes, anyone who thinks sexual touching by strangers should become routine and commonplace for people who are not prison inmates is a moral zero – including Southwest Airlines.

          6. Honestly, I don’t think the airlines are losing out much at all. For everyone who refuses to buy a plane ticket because of this, there are 10 more who will. With airlines cutting capacity anyways, they have no trouble filling their seats and will see basically no impact.

            Nothing wrong with standing up for a cause like this, but not everyone will notice it as much as you hope.

          7. Don’t forget that costs went way up too, such that tickets are a lot more expensive. Nowhere in those articles does it say that people are doing this to avoid the TSA.
            Besides, what matters is that the airlines are making a profit, not that people are or aren’t flying with them. Until their profits drop explicitly because of the TSA, nothing’s going to change.

          8. Actually, true.  I did not fly between November 2010 and March 2011, cancelling 3 already purchased and 7 in-planning roundtrip air tickets in protest. I used to fly about 50 flights per year – usually two or more round trips per month.  I was such a frequent flyer that I hold a Southwest Airlines companion pass that has gone virtually unused since it was awarded. I have completely re-arranged my life to avoid flying in all possible circumstances: taking trains to Florida, Pittsburgh, and Boston, driving to Asheville, Rochester, Montreal, and cancelling some trips that couldn’t be rescheduled to avoid flying.  However, I have assented to take a handful of flights when there was no other way to travel and the trip was very significant.  I flew to China.  I flew for one cross-country domestic trip.  In all of those cases, I made elaborate preparations for all possible sexual-assault-by-TSA scenarios.  I chose my airline and airport to avoid scanners: Virgin America from Boston to SFO has no scanners, and United from SFO home has no scanners.  So I’ve gone from 50 domestic flights last year to 4 this year.

            If I were ever in a situation where a stranger demanded to take naked pictures of me or to touch me in any way as a condition of travel, I would simply demand that the police escort me out of the airport and cancel my trip.  I do not tolerate sexual abuse, and that’s what these TSA screeners are doing to people, plain and simple. If others would stand up and protect themselves in the same way, we could clean up the disgusting filth of the TSA once and for all.

          9. And what part of the Southwest contract requires them to issue you a refund if you refuse to go through screening?

          10. Actually in this case it sounds like the OP was perfectly willing to go through screening, just either the TSA didn’t want them to. 

             I would think getting an official statement from the TSA would be interesting here.  If they say it was the TSA’s decision to deny clearance through security, you can bring the fight to the TSA for stopping someone who should be able to fly.  If they claim it was Southwest the compensation claim gets better.

      2. Would it be too late to take Southwest to court? Your case sounds convincing to me since you bought the ticket before the new rules came in.

        1. I would have liked to take Southwest to court, but luckily it was resolved more easily than that.  My credit card company agreed with me that this was a bait-and-switch, and so they refunded over $1000 of airline tickets that I could no longer use safely. SWA insists to this day that suddenly attaching a condition of having strangers rubbing my labia wasn’t a change to the terms of our agreement.

          1. I fly at least three times a week and have never been pulled for “intensive” patdowns or whatever they’re calling it.

            Please stop saying that purchase of airfare = sexual molestation. 

            It doesn’t work that way. Are you on a watch list? Have you been special selected more than once? Or, are you just making a point to make a point? Because if it’s the latter, you’re doing a lousy job of it.

            Right now, you just sound like a whiner who likes to type “labia.”

          2. Raven writes: I fly at least three times a week and have never been pulled for “intensive” patdowns or whatever they’re calling it.
            Please stop saying that purchase of airfare = sexual molestation.
            It doesn’t work that way. Are you on a watch list? Have you been special selected more than once? Or, are you just making a point to make a point? Because if it’s the latter, you’re doing a lousy job of it.
            Right now, you just sound like a whiner who likes to type “labia.”

            Once again, the logical — and ethical — spirit of Americans in action:  “It never happened to me, therefore it doesn’t happen!  And even if it did, I don’t care!”

          3. I never said that. I just said that I have never experienced a patdown. I know others have. However, I feel Ms. Gentry was being way over the top with her “MY LABIA” on all her posts. 

          4. I can understand that reading that word might be upsetting.  It’s even more upsetting to have that body part handled when one wasn’t expecting it, so the reasoning behind why I keep talking about this in such explicit and shocking terms is to make sure everyone knows what is happening at airports.  John Pistole has repeatedly refused to explain what an enhanced patdown is, and the standard script that screeners say when giving a patdown does not make it clear that this body part will be touched.  Susie Castillo, former Miss USA, who created an emotional video of her reaction to being touched in this way, made it clear that she did *not* know that the screener would do this to her.  She was just standing there, and suddenly felt a stranger’s hands intentionally touching this body part, and burst into tears.  Her reaction is perfectly understandable, and I think it’s shameful that the TSA doesn’t make it clear to people what they are “consenting” to.  That’s why I keep saying this word.

          5. Really, are you saying because it hasn’t happened to you, it never happened?  I had a screener penetrate me with a foreign object at a BWI checkpoint.  This assault has changed my life forever.  Despite my persistent attempts to get justice, no one ever apologized, no one was disciplined or retrained or charged with the crime that was committed.    I’m glad, really, I’m glad that you haven’t been sexually abused by a TSA screener yet.  I’ll even go so far as to wish this never happens to you, even if it means you may never have the compassion to care about all the other people that TSA has victimized.  I have spoken personally with dozens of men and women who described their shock, humiliation, pain and anguish after enduring unwelcome sexual touching at checkpoints.  I just read about a case of a 13-year-old girl traveling alone who called her mother having a crying fit after the TSA touched her breasts and genitals.  Think about that for a moment: a 13 year old girl, traveling alone and getting touched in the places her bathing suit covers by a stranger, and how you might feel if you were that girl’s parent.

          6. I’m sorry this happened to you, but what are you doing to stick it to them? 

            Have you sued the screener for penetrating you? Go file a small claims case for assault if you can’t get a lawyer to take it. Better yet, try and get the case on one of those daytime court shows. Why not make sure every news organization in the world knows that this suit is on the docket? 
            Because, as others have said, the airlines are not controlling the TSA. And, since our esteemed Congressmen are exempt from TSA screening, don’t expect them to deal with the problem. They don’t give a rat’s behind since it doesn’t affect them.

            BTW…Texas tried to make it illegal for them to pat us down here but the feds said they would shut down all air traffic and the state couldn’t deal with that.

          7. Okay, wait, I’ll agree with you on this point – not everyone who flies gets the same treatment.  Some people who fly get molested.  Some people who fly get molested every time: Tom Sawyer and Jesse Ventura are two examples (medical issues). Some people walk through unscathed.  In fact, some of those people who have never experienced a patdown call the people who have been victimized “whiners”, even though they can have no idea what that particular violation would feel like.

          8. Wow, Raven, are you calling the hundreds and hundreds of Americans who have been left feeling violated, and in many cases WEEPING RIGHT IN THE AIRPORT after TSA molestation, all liars?  Just because it never happened to YOU?
            You do live on a very interesting planet… and speaking of travelling, I don’t even want to visit it.

          9. Not calling them liars, but I think Ms. Gentry’s “MY LABIA” posts were a bit over the top.

          10. Now you are the one spewing filth.  Sommer Gentry was just stating facts, using the medically accurate term to refer to that anatomy.

      3. Sommer, the difference is that yours was your own choice, and this case was the not the traveler’s choice, but the TSA’s.

        1. I was willing to fly.  I wanted to fly.  I asked Southwest to transport me.  I just refused to allow my body to be sexually violated.  It was the TSA’s choice to abuse travelers.  SWA COC lists as a reason for Refusal to Transport 6(a)5. , “Search of Passenger or Property. Any Passenger who refuses to permit the search of his person or property by Carrier or an authorized government agency for explosives, hazardous materials, contraband, or concealed, deadly, or dangerous weapons or articles.”  Sounds to me like passenger choosing to refuse screening qualifies as a reason for refusal to transport, and according to that section of the contract, Southwest should have refunded my fare.

          1. This states that the refund will be in accordance to Article 9 of the contract of carriage…which only applies to oversale in the denied boarding aspect.  I have been through a thorough pat down and I didn’t feel violated.  I have also been the victim of a *real* sexual assault.  I’m afraid the two don’t compare. 

            I’m betting that you had a nonrefundable fare.  Southwest would probably give you a travel credit, not that you’d use it. If you want to make a big deal of it, take them to small claims court.  

          2. It was the TSA’s choice to “abuse passengers”. It was your choice not to fly. Southwest is not involved.

          3. Most airlines are NOT going to get involved, especially after Texas threatened to pass a law against the TSA. They simply cannot afford to. If you’re going to fight this, you need to change tactics. Go after TSA, not the airlines.

          4. An economic boycott would bring the airlines to their knees.  Business travelers may be forced to fly for work, but millions of people aren’t.  We have the power to change this.  But too many Americans, for all their talk of “freedom” and “democracy” and “values,” have a fainting spell at the mere thought of sacrifice.

            The civil rights movement would never have succeeded without economic boycotts.  (Neither did Gandhi.)  Money talks.  It always has and it always will.  If enough people refused to fly, the airlines would run screaming to Congress and demand that the TSA stop its abuse.  Things would change so fast your eyes would spin.

            But it’s going to have to get a lot worse, which it will, before that happens.

          5. But the flaw with that is that business travelers are the high revenue tickets. Families going to Di$ney spend less on all their tickets combined than your typical business traveler who buys a 3-day advance, unrestricted ticket.

            True, an economic boycott would hurt the airlines, but then wouldn’t the fed just bail them out again?

            I say go after the offending agency rather than the airlines.

          6. An economic boycott is not going to happen at all – most people out there simply don’t care enough to stop flying, and the 1% who do aren’t going to make enough of an impact to the airlines. If anything, the people who see it first would be airport authorities.

            And as has been said there are plenty of travelers who are going to fly anyways such as business travelers. If you want to drive everywhere rather than fly, the go for it, but don’t expect others to.

          7. just because YOU FEEL Southwest “ought to” get involved does not mean that SWA should be required to give you a refund.

          8. Yes, you’re right, these are two different issues.

            I think Southwest has a moral responsibility to protect its passengers.  By staying silent about unwelcome sexual touching inflicted on adults and even minors, Southwest encourages this depraved behavior.

            As a separate matter, I felt and still feel I deserved a refund because the conditions of travel changed after I bought my ticket, and because the contract of carriage clearly states that Southwest will deny me boarding if I refuse security screening, and that if Southwest denies me boarding then I am entitled to a refund of my fare.

      4. Did you just write this so that you could say things like “nudie” and “labia” in public?

        You refused to be screened, therefore, you couldn’t board the plane.  Not Southwest’s problem.

        1. Wait, it’s okay for a stranger to fondle my labia and take nude pictures of me, but it’s not okay for me to use those words to state my vehement objections? They can rub it but I can’t refer to the body part by its correct anatomical name?  I think you need a reality check.  The TSA is touching the genitals of innocent people.  The TSA is paying someone to grab the breasts of 13-year-old girls.  The TSA is forcing elderly women to strip naked and remove their underwear.  These abuses should be abhorrent to everyone.

      5. Wait a minute.
        You bought the ticket in August 2010.
        The screening problems started around Thanksgiving 2010.
        You were flying to Austin in December of 2010.

        When was the original labia rubbing you experienced?

        Or are you saying that this occurred on the day you were to fly to Austin and you just decided not to fly after that?

        If it happened before, you had plenty of time to change your plans.

        SWA owed you nothing since you opted not to fly on the date you were supposed to fly.

        They did not opt not to transport you, you decided you didn’t want to be screened because of something that happened in the preceeding month. It’s the same thing as buying a ticket and not showing up.

    2. “Southwest denied him boarding, at the direction on the TSA”
      This is almost certainly false.  According to TSA’s own website, travellers who have misplaced, lost or otherwise do not have ID but are cooperative with officers are generally allowed to fly.

      I was surprised that this was the case until a friend of mine forgot his ID and was allowed to board his flight.  He did not have any ID documentation, but the agents were satisfied simply by me vouching for  his identity (they looked at my ID; I may have also had to sign something but I don’t recall for sure). 

      Southwest may have their own rules and reasons to deny boarding (for example, out of fear that this could be used to circumvent ticket transferability.)  But in that case they were not being honest in their response to Chris.

      1. Yes, you are technically not required to have ID when flying. However, TSA makes the determination of whether or not you are allowed to pass security.  Since they decided that this passenger was not deemed acceptable to pass, THEY are the ones who denied him boarding… Southwest or *any* airline in that terminal, doesn’t matter.  SWA is just the ones who have to process the refund.

        1. “they [TSA] decided that this passenger was not deemed acceptable to pass”—-How do you know this?  Are you familiar with this case independently of Chris’ article?

          Why wouldn’t TSA inform the passenger if that were the case?  Why wouldn’t even the SWA agent at the scene point the finger at TSA?

  3. he is right, though, about part 250 NOT being about ID, but about
    oversales, unless it’s buried in the reserved 250.7 section. the Southwest rep
    should really look into that.

    the only thing i could possibly see is 250.6:

    A passenger denied boarding involuntarily from an oversold flight shall not be eligible for denied boarding compensation if:

    (a) The passenger does not comply fully with the carrier’s contract of
    carriage or tariff provisions regarding ticketing, reconfirmation,
    check-in, and acceptability for transportation

    Perhaps the SWA rep missed that little “from an *oversold* flight” thing (emphasis mine), and just based it on the OP being involuntarily denied boarding because he didn’t fully comply with check-in and/or acceptability for transportation.  if the TSA decided he was unacceptable based on having no ID, i could see the SWA rep using this regulation. yet, it clearly states this is in cases of oversold flights.  was his? maybe it was, and that’s how they are framing it, even though you can’t know that til after the fact. but SWA got that part wrong (the only part they got wrong, in my opinion. it was TSA who didn’t adhere to their own policies regarding traveling with no ID.) (or was there more to this story?)

    1. Agreed, I suspect that there is more to this story…

      Some possibilities include:
      1) Guillua made a scene while being screened, thus was not cleared by TSA
      2) Southwest had reason to believe that Guillua was trying to fly on a ticket that was not issued to him

      Then again, it could have been that the SWA agent just erred.

  4. How exactly does showing a piece of plastic with a picture on it make flying safer?  If the TSA screening process “protects” us it should make no difference if we show id or not.  Does this mean the TSA is admitting that they are useless?  Hope I never lose my wallet or I could be stuck somewhere!

    1. I also hope that you never lose your wallet so that you won’t come and complain that your airline won’t give you money when you get into an argument with the TSA

  5. I really don’t understand why anyone thinks they can fly without ID. It’s not rocket surgery, people.

    1. I didn’t realize that you could fly without an ID until I showed up at an airport and forgot my wallet. The agent was like, don’t worry, we can get you on the plane. When I explained that I wouldn’t be able to get a rental car, they gave me time to go home, get my wallet, and put me on the next flight.

      The second time was when my wife lost her ID while hiking in Colorado. Since it was impossible to get a replacement, we took our chances at the airport. She was taken back for a “secondary screening” She stated that they asked a lot of questions, but she cleared security faster than I did.

      The kicker is that TSA must be able to confirm your identity. I agree flying without an ID is likely ill advised, but there are situations and scenarios where it does happen.

    1. Julie, Sorry but your statement is simply NOT true. While I agree that flying without an ID is ill advised, there is a protocol in place. Keep in mind that infants fly every day without IDs, and people do lose wallets, are victims of theft, etc.

      1. Also, kids under 18 can fly without an ID. I saw a pair of teens headed on spring break telling their friend “just tell them you’re 17” because she only had a fake ID for drinking in another name than the one that the ticket was issued in.
        Of course, this was before birthdates were required on tickets, but people have gamed the system forever.
        Oh, and just because I’m a cold hearted guy, I told the ticket agent about the conversation I overheard since it was “suspicious”

      1. In Virginia, you used to be able to get a driver’s license without showing ID.  There was a provision allowing you to verify your identity through other means.  That’s how several of the Sept. 11 hijackers got driver’s licenses.  Needless to say, once this was discovered, Virginia closed that loophole pretty fast.
        Kind of ironic, then, that amid all this airport security-hysteria that is the fruit of Sept. 11, you can get on a plane without showing ID, isn’t it? 

      2. I don’t know where you’re from, but here in Canada you need ID to vote. I can’t imagine one wouldn’t need it also in the great U.S. of A. !!

  6. Perhaps many people agree with “Tammela” and think you should just not be allowed to board without ID. 

    Now, picture you are in a faraway city and get mugged for your wallet the day before your return flight.  You have no ID and no realistic way to replace it.  The TSA/Southwest don’t let you on the flight to go home.  How do you *ever* get home?

    1. I have a friend who realized that he’d lost his ID on a business trip.  His wife was able to work with the DMV to expedite a replacement driver’s license to him within two days.  Yes, it stinks to be stuck in a strange city, but things happen. 

      1. But in the mean time, you miss your flight and the airline soaks you with fees to change your flight plus you have the cost of accommodation for those extra days.  If there is no law/rule that *requires* you to have ID, and it is sounding like there isn’t, the SouthWest was clearly wrong in denying him boarding.  

        As Chris in NC says, there is more to the story than we are hearing.

        1. actually, i said that!!  and again, Southwest (no capital on the W) did not decide to deny him boarding. the TSA did.

          1. Actually, you both said it.  And according to the story, it was Southwest who originally said they were the ones denying him boarding.  It wasn’t until later they said it was the TSA.

          2. oh yes, because the OP says “Southwest clearly indicated” it, then it must be true. no.
            as i’ve said several times, Southwest just has to process/refund the ticket when TSA denies someone passing through security checkpoint.

    2. I think the police would give you a letter explaining that you have no ID and should be allowed to fly.  If it happens overseas, the US consulate or embassy can fax papers to the airport and the airline can walk you through security; I know because it happened to me.

  7. They already compensated him by giving a full refund. What more does he think he’s entitled to? By now, travelers should know that they need an ID to get through airport security.

  8. Southwest Contract of Carriage –…/contract-of-carriage.pdfArticle 6.  Acceptance of Passengers  a.  Refusal to Transport General.  Carrier may, in its sole discretion, refuse to transport, or may remove from an aircraft at any point, any Passenger in any of the circumstances listed below.  The fare of any Passenger denied transportation or removed from Carrier’s aircraft en route under the provisions of this Article will be refunded in accordance with Article 9 of this Contract of Carriage.  The sole recourse of any Passenger refused transportation or removed en route will be the recovery of the refund value of the unused portion of his Ticket.  Under nocircumstances shall Carrier be liable to any Passenger for any type of special, incidental, or consequential damages.(6) Proof of Identity.  Any Passenger who refuses upon request to produce positive identification acceptable to the Carrier. End of Story?

  9. To everyone who says “you can’t fly without your ID,” that statement is simply not true. You can fly without an ID, you will undergo “enhanced” screening. My wife lost her ID while hiking in Colorado, and was able to board at DIA after undergoing some mysterious “enhanced” screening. Ironically, she cleared security faster than I did!

    Like every article here, I suspect there is more to the story. The bottom line is that Southwest issued him a FULL refund of his ticket. While this is unfortunate for Guillua I don’t think he has any additional recourse unless he can prove that he was discriminated upon. 

    1. I agree; the story does not add up. If Southwest was going to deny him boarding, why did they not just do so at check-in instead of sending him off to the TSA?

      One other thing I notice is the discrepancy between the TSA wording and how Gillula/Elliott argue the case:

      The TSA says that no ID “does not necessarily mean” you can’t fly.

      In the Gillula/Elliott version it sounds like you just have to submit to the secondary screening, then all is well:

      “[Gillula] didn’t have his ID. That shouldn’t have been a problem, at least according to the TSA. It allows passengers who don’t have identification to undergo a secondary screening.” And then later on it reads, “TSA should have allowed him to board, …”

      Should? On what basis?  

      1. Thank You. I have asked for anyone to please give me Southwest’s motivation to offer a refund rather than keep the money and fly someone. The only thing I could think of was that the flight was overbooked and they were looking for someone to “bump”, but why send the passenger to TSA screening first? That does not add up. Besides, airlines overbook to compensate for no-shows. They would not know if they truly needed to bump anyone until after the boarding process was complete.

        Once again in these columns, lots of important details left out, what time did he arrive at the airport? What time was his flight? Did the Southwest agent know he would not make it through screening and arrive at the gate in time to board? Were there no other flights to his destination to rebook on? If so, Southwest went above and beyond.

        Did he check in and get a boarding pass at the counter, kiosk or before arriving at the aiport? Who did he first approach about lacking an ID?

        Sounds like someone made a mistake themselves and wants someone else to pay.

        Can anyone come up with a motive for Southwest to refund money rather than fly a passenger for the ticket revenue?

        1. I think it’s most likely that the Southwest agent wasn’t thinking in terms of SW’s bottom line but in terms of CYA and following SW policies. 

          But the motivation you’re looking for would exist if the OP’s flight was in fact oversold.

          1. Possible, but the read I get is that the passenger went to the TSA line first and then a Southwest agent was called over after the “long wait” and “interrogation”. Had he cleared the checkpoint, which is possible without an ID, no need for a Southwest agent to come to the checkpoint in the matter. So, to me, it sounds like TSA decided he could not go, or too much time had elapsed to now make the flight.

          2. Assuming the OP didn’t have a pre-printed boarding pass, the TSA/Sheriff’s officers would have had to contact an airline agent to verify his flight and print his boarding pass.  

          3. Generally, they are sent back to the airport ticket counter by the screeners (Not TSA/Sherriff) who ensure everyone has their boarding pass prior to entering the line.

          4. No, that wouldn’t work in this case, because airline ticket counter agents don’t print boarding passes w/o ID.

            BTW, even if the OP had a print-at-home boarding pass, it wouldn’t be surprising if part of the enhanced security in this situation involves asking an airline rep to independently verify the passenger’s flights.  Those boarding passes are not hard to falsify.

          5. Actually it would work.

            The pre-screener would ask to see a boarding pass. If the passenger did not have one, they are sent back to the ticket counter. At that point the passenger COULD attempt to print a BP with a credit card in his name at the kiosk. Going back to the line, the pre-screener is now satisfied that the passenger has a BP and allows him in line. He is asked to show his ID by the TSA agent, not being able to produce one, he goes through other types of screening…and we have an idea what happened from here.

          6. You’re making lots of assumptions (that passenger paid for his own ticket by credit card, that passenger is carrying said credit card, that kiosk scans said credit card and locates the correct itinerary [just that last part fails for me about 1/2 the time])

          7. I’m not saying that is what happened in this case. I am saying that is how it COULD happen, not a real strech. In this case I have a feeling the passenger was running late and missed the opportunity to board due to his “interogation”, would like to see if Chris can provide more info.

            BTW, the credit card does not need to be the one used to purchase the ticket, just one where the name field matches the name on the ticket.

            I have used boarding passes printed at home almost 50% of the time in the last 10+ years and have never been turned away for a airport printed one. Have also never had an issue with a kiosk not finding my reservation for the return.

          8. If the passenger was really running late, why would Southwest be shy about sharing this with the OP or with Chris?  And why would they not attempt to rebook him?

          9. Good question. So many facts are lacking and a motive for Southwest to refund rather than rebook is also lacking.

            Regardless, I don’t think he is owed anything above and beyond.

            I would be curious about the sequence of events as they happened. The story seemed to start AFTER he was “interrogated”. Also, the sherrif dept would not generally get involved in a case of a passenger lacking an ID. Too routine and left to TSA to handle.

          10. Actually, I believe the sherriff/local police would HAVE to get involved if they were going to attempt ID verification (e.g. against local DMV or other govt databases by SSN etc.).  I’m pretty certain the TSA does not have the statuatory authority to conduct those kind of searches on their own.

          11. just a note: you don’t have to use the same credit card you paid for the ticket with, you can use any credit card. you can even use a CostCo card and others with magnetic strips. perhaps the customer had his confirmation number in his phone and typed that.  but David S is right… you never have to see a SWA agent before you get in the security line, and it isn’t until the TSA asks for your ID that anyone would know you didn’t have it. at that point, the TSA makes a determination (more questioning, any other ID, refusal to pass) and responds. sounds like they decided the OP couldn’t travel, and called the SWA supervisor over.

          12. I’ve learned to always have the record locator or my FF# handy because the CC method very often does not work.  It could be because my cards usually have my middle initial and my FF accounts generally don’t.

          13. Going with the theory that the flight was oversold… it’d be quite a gamble for SW to pass the passenger on to the TSA hoping they’ll not clear him for boarding? Do we even know if he told the SW lady at check-in he didn’t have any ID? 

          14. I don’t think we know if he checked in at the counter, kiosk or did it online and printed his boarding pass and skipped the Southwest interaction until AFTER his TSA experience.

  10. Bring your ID. That’s the whole story.

    Southwest wouldn’t let him on the plane because the TSA wouldn’t clear him. They wouldn’t clear him because he didn’t have an ID.

    I’m doubt it would be legal to drive a car in California without an ID. This is just a case of a guy blaming others for his mistakes.

    1. It’s illegal to drive in Texas without an ID, but the illegals do it all the time. It’s especially fun when they hit you and of course don’t have insurance!!!!

        1. No, but the one who hit me was! And somehow he managed to avoid prosecution for running the red! But then, they are a “protected class” so I guess should expect nothing less.

    2. You can drive anywhere you want in the US without an ID in your possession.  This is not the same as driving without a proper license on file. 

      The OP here is not saying he has no ID, just that he did not have it with him. 

      1. Not so.  Nebraska requires the driver’s license to be in the driver’s immediate possession.  I forgot my wallet at home, found out when I stopped for gas 20 miles away, was headed home (above the speed limit) and stopped.  I got off with a warning, and had to present myself *and* license to my local police department in order to clear the ticket without penalty.

        1. Idaho doesn’t.  You just have to know what your driver’s license number is.  At least, that was the case when I lived there 15 years ago.

  11. I’m sure people fly without IDs. I’m sure there is a procedure in place for it. 

    I’m also sure we’re not getting the whole story here. I’m wondering if this guy was out to make a scene that day.

    Did he eventually get an ID and travel? Did he travel on another carrier without ID? Did he fly SWA the next day? These are important things to know in determining whether or not this was a scam from the start.

    1. Why would anyone possibly develop a procedure to fly without an id.  That is the stupidest thing I have heard in months.  You can’t drive a car, rent a car, use a credit card in most stores, or register for anything meaningful without id.

      1. Sorry Guest, you are mistaken. There is a procedure in place for traveling without an ID.

        From the TSA website:
        We understand passengers occasionally arrive at the airport without an ID, due to lost items or inadvertently leaving them at home. Not having an ID, does not necessarily mean a passenger won’t be allowed to fly. If passengers are willing to provide additional information, we have other means of substantiating someone’s identity, like using publicly available databases.

        1. That’s just bull$hit.  A few extra questions??  Are you kidding?   There is NO ONE in the US who has any business on an aircraft without some form of ID.  if you’re under 18 you have a school ID, or your parents have ID and and you are with them.  You simply don’t let someone on an aircraft without knowing who they are.

          1. i’m not sure if you’re in disbelief that it actually happens, or if you’re calling DavidS a liar.  either way, it IS true that no ID is actually required to fly.

        2. So I want to do something damaging and I look up someone’s info on a “public database”?  You are a true moron.

      2. You are wrong.  My 19-yr-old son just flew without an ID.  Long story why he didn’t have one – but he didn’t.  We called TSA in advance to ask what the procedure is.  Simple:  extra screening, they ask you a few questions.  Happens every day.

        There is no law that says you must carry ID with you at all times.  This is not Nazi Germany.  There is no law that says you must have ID with you to board a plane, train, or bus. 

  12. As one famous wit said: “Stupid is as Stupid does”.

    Responsibility for your own actions!

    Bring your ID!!!!

    It doesn’t matter who denied him boarding, ID is a fact of life whether we want it to be or not. 

    1.  If TSA was in any way capable of doing their job properly, it wouldn’t matter if anybody had IDs, would it?

      1. Yes, if they were mind readers and we had the oracles from Minority Report we would not need ids.  Brilliant.

        1. They don’t need to be mind readers.  In the US of A, we are free to move about the country without ID.  That’s the LAW.  The TSA is violating the law.  Do some research on it before you post about things you don’t know about.

          1. I respectfully disagree.  If I move about the country by driving myself, I need to have proof of having passed a driver’s licensing test.  When I go to the doctor’s this afternoon, I have to show proof that I and my insurance card match (i.e. my driver’s license) under new Red Flag requirements (addressed at identity theft issues).  If I lived in one of the states passing legislation aimed at illegal immigrants, I would have to provide ID as being an American citizen if stopped.

            I agree with you in theory, but reality intervenes.

          2. Try driving without your license, and then argue forcefully with the cop when he writes you up.  You’ll learn.

    2. GASP!  Imagine being with a crowd of people on a form of transportation who hadn’t identified themselves to ahthoritah! 

      Dude, it happens every time you get on a bus or train.  :::rolleyes:::

      Every day we draw closer and closer to Nazi Germany.  Next, we’re going to be stopped in the streets with shouts of “WHERE’S YOUR PAPERS???”

  13. Doesn’t add up that Southwest would deny him boarding. People forget their ID’s everyday so this is not on uncommon occurence. It is the TSA’s decision to allow him to pass through the security checkpoint.

    Southwest would prefer the ticket revenue rather than a refund.

  14. What idiot forgets his or her id for a flight in 2011??  This is just a textbook example of the “stupid tax.”

      1. You’re both idiots for even suggesting someone should be allowed on an airline without proper ID.    I hope the next time you’re in the boarding line some scrappy looking guy is trying to get on without ID.  Of course you will change your mind at that point.

        1. i haven’t heard of people arguing that they “should” be allowed to board without ID, just that they are ABLE to. it IS legal. not sure how many times it must be repeated.

    1. What idiot doesn’t realize that there are perfectly valid reasons for someone not to have an ID that have nothing to do with idiocy? This is just a textbook example of the moronic “anything for security” mindset.  Get ready to spread ’em for the cavity check – that’s next.

    2. Agreed. We need more ‘stupid taxes’ in this country. Probably would balance the national deficit actually.

  15. I’m curious why he didn’t have ID, as it is probably related to why he was denied boarding.  There’s a difference between I had my wallet stolen and I forgot my wallet.  I know because I once had to drive my father’s ID to the airport when he forgot it.

    I don’t know if it’s the way the post was written, but it seems that his story changes a bit after the response from SW.  Now it says that the SW agent said it was at the request of TSA.  I’m wondering if this is actually a favor to him?  If the TSA just can’t clear him then he can’t board the flight wouldn’t be just be out of luck?  If TSA requests SW to do it and he got a refund then he should be happy.  While it would be nice if they did offer to rebook him, it sounds to me like this may have actually worked out in his favor anyway. 

    I don’t know the intricacies of this, but it sounds like he got proper compensation.

  16. I just flew SW from Chicago Midway to Austin this past Saturday and the man in front of me in the security line did not have a photo ID.  The TSA agent asked him what he had in way of ID and he showed him a credit card and his checkbook.  That worked and he went on through the line, no delay whatsoever.

  17. What you have to keep in mind here is that the federal ID requirement was first imposed by Congress at the behest of the airlines, to prevent passengers from trading unused tickets and to make it easier to enforce their non-transferability rules. On the old days, when passengers still had rights, a change in plans meant you could resell an unused ticket to someone else.

  18. Maybe some of the lawyers among us can comment on whether the recorded conversation would be legal evidence or whether the OP could be sued for making it (assuming he didn’t inform the Southwest employee that the conversation was being recorded). If it can be used, off to small claims court he should go!  If not, YouTube or Twitter might be a better avenue.

  19. Why would Southwest prefer to deny boarding and issue a refund? Wouldn’t they prefer to have him fly and keep the revenue? Sounds like he could not be screened to TSA’s satisfaction.

  20. Chris,

    Can’t we just simplify this whole thing. Get an I.D. and stop being a pain in the ass. He wants extra compensation for being ignorant and lazy? C’mon. 

  21. You have a recording of the conversation between you and the Southwest employee and after THREE times being denied by Southwest, and Southwest claiming it was TSA who denied you, you just now offer your recording?  Are you stupid?  Really?  Your claim is rejected for not offering Southwest airlines your recording of their employee at the outset – being stupid has consequences in the world and this is one of the those times- you are wasting people’s time with BS that you could have easily stopped at the outset by offering all of the information you have WHEN YOU MAKE THE CLAIM.   Case Denied.  Next time – bring your ID. 

  22. Both are doing the old dance , the side step. Your papers please- do you have a valid travel permit? One of those govn. in western Europe had this travel stuff down to a science way back in the ’30s& ’40s why not give the airline folks some real training like they had back then? Most arn’t that smart so give them lots of pictures I hear they like pictures.

  23. This is also going to be one of those times that the TSA will claim, if you can prove it was them denying you boarding [actually what they did was deny you access to the secured area] that TSA will claim that they were ‘being unpredictable to terrorists’ to make certain your flight is safe.  Anytime they violate their own rules and procedures, thats what they claim.  They NEVER admit they are wrong or that they violated their procedures.  In your case, you became argumentative, even if you didn’t, and the lack of ID the TSO was unable to verify identity and the TSA will support their tSO’s exercising their discretion – so no matter what you say or do – they will be right and you will be wrong – its how they operate.  When has any citizen ever been right?  When has TSA ever apologized to a citizen and promised to correct their errors – they never admit to an error – thus – you are wrong.  End of Story.

  24. It seems to me that if Southwest now claims that TSA denied the boarding that it should NOT have refunded his money. So I believe the passenger’s version is probably the more accurate, notwithstanding Southwest’s claim of consistent records. Southwest has, in recent years, made a number of these slippery decisions that are customary for the remaining legacy carriers. Southwest apparently wants to abandon its mantle of maverick and join the legacies in treating customers as dollar signs rather than people.

  25. The OP asked for compensation as if the flight had been overbooked, and Southwest responded he would not have been due compensation had the flight been overbooked. What’s the problem?

    And as far as alternate transportation, you are required to show ID on trains and when you rent a car as well. I’m not sure about buses, but since they are also covered by TSA, why would they say, “You are not ok to fly, but please use another form of transportation for which we also oversee security.”

  26. I always enjoy reading the comments here. Some because they offer tidbits of information previously unknown to me and I store them away for future use; some because they are well-thought out, well-presented rational responses and I enjoy the intelligent dialogue; and some because it’s like watching a Jerry Springer episode verbally play out through hyperbole and hystrionics. I am NEVER bored by Chris and his readers!

  27. As others have said, he got a full refund.  He really thinks he’s entitled to additional compensation for his mistake?  His letter doesn’t suggest that he didn’t have his ID for reasons beyond his control (e.g. theft) or even admit to a mistake in forgetting it.  (Hint, being humble about the reason for a mistake tends to make people more forgiving — we can argue all we want about whether ID *should* be required to fly, but the reality of 2011 is that generally it is, and the OP doesn’t explain why he didn’t have it)

    Further, under SW’s contract of carriage, which expressly permits SW to deny boarding to anyone without an ID that is acceptable to SW itself, it looks to me that they could at least argue they didn’t owe him anything at all.  The provisions on compensation require that the passenger otherwise comply with the rest of their contract of carriage, which includes presenting acceptable ID.

    If forgetting one’s ID was a way to receive a “refund plus” on airline tickets, it seems to me a lot more people would be “forgetting” their IDs.

  28. Bottom line is shame on him for forgetting his id. By now we all know we need proper id to board a plane. Lesson learned. He should be glad he was reimbursed for his flight.

  29. After reading many Elliott articles I ask myself this question – Why is it that many passengers WHO ARE IN THE WRONG want compensation for their own mistakes? Yet, the vast majority of passenger who obey the rules calmly go about their flights and reach their destinations.

  30. Why did he not have his ID?  Did he lose it, or was he just trying to be difficult? 
    I really wanted to side with him and say he was due compensation because TSA is allowed to let people through without ID if they can be screened and many people may have a legitimate reason to have no ID, and it sounds like SouthWest denied him and not TSA.  However, after seeing that the CoC stated that SouthWest can ask for ID and if it can’t be furnished they can deny boarding and not pay compensation I no longer think he is due. 
    I see people without IDs pretty frequently in the Denver airport and it always seems to be a smote process.
    If he was just trying to be difficult and cause a seen or try to push TSAs buttons, then this guy wasn’t even due a refund.  The fact that he went in with a tape recorder, makes me think he was just trying to cause problems.
    I know TSA grope fest sucks, and no one likes it, and it is often difficult.  But I will comply and go through as smoothly as I can and do what I can to make it the least painful experience for everyone involved.

  31. From what I understand, TSA cannot deny you boarding because of lack of ID. There was a case in Albuquerque about that I believe. I would imagine that would now serve as precedent, correct?

  32. Imagine if they did offer additional compensation. Alot pf people would soon play this same game just to get free future flights

  33. Am I missing something here? Who, besides armchair libertarians with something to prove, goes out without ID, especially on a trip? How was he planning to rent a car or a hotel room? How was he planning to purchase pretty much anything?

    I would chalk the denied denied-boarding money up to stupidity tax.

    1. You know, I’ve been thinking about this case and I’m wondering if the OP wasn’t trying to travel on a “borrowed” ticket. I find it hard to believe anyone doesn’t have some kind of ID.

      1. Perhaps Elliott deliberately left out the reason this passenger had no ID to focus on whether the TSA or Southwest made the calls and how much compensation was due?

  34. I think there is a difference between the Role of the TSA and the airline.
    In short, the TSA prevents people from entering the SECURE ZONE of a airport so people are screened for dangerous stuff (hence the infamous groping and x-ray stuff.) The airline is (were) responsible for screening the names of their passengers using the No-Fly list prepared by the TSA. With the recent Secure Flight initiative, the burden for that screening was placed to the TSA (since airlines enter the passenger names, DOB and gender at least 72 hours prior to departure). However, common sense still applies – SOMEONE HAS TO CHECK WHETHER THE PERSON WHO WAS ISSUED A BOARDING PASS IS THE ONE ACTUALLY BOARDING THE AIRPLANE. This is the reason why airlines want to see your ID. The ID and Boarding Pass must match.

    1. Where does anyone compare the name on the boarding pass matches the name of the person boarding the aircraft?  When was the last time that an airline asked you for your ID before boarding the aircraft?  TSA checks the boarding pass against ID – they make some cursory effort to assure the ID is real, but, a government issued photo ID is sufficient  . . .  so if your library card has a photo on it – its ok.  There are soooo many ways around the person boarding the airplane not being the person whose name is on the boarding pass . . . the airline counts numbers of bodies- all they care about is the money.  You could have a plane 100% female under the age of 30 actually on board with a flight manifest holding an AARP group of 50 traveling – and no one at the airline would even notice.. . . .

      1. I just flew from JFK to HKG  (and beyond) and back. On both directions and points between HKG and Asia my US passport was checked against the name on my boarding pass. They even put a colored pen mark after they do it as you fall in line.

        Granted my example was not US domestic. Since the volume of domestic travel is a hell of a lot more than international, then I suppose airlines are skipping the ID match process.  But one still has to present an ID (which the OP did not do).

        I never claimed the system is fool proof. As a result, you get a Nigerian student who was able to beat the system.

      2. I’ve flown quite a bit in the past month and on two occasions the agent was matching IDs to boarding passes at the gate during the boarding process (both domestic flights).  It has happened to me on other flights in the past also — seems to be a “spot check” type of thing.  But it doesn’t occur all or even most of the time.

  35. I feel there must be more to this than is being admitted by the OP which led to his being denied TSA screning.  I believe he has already received everything he is entitled to.  The part about the interrogation just doesn’t sound right. 

    I have flown without my ID before and just informed the ticket counter person about it was was allowed to go through the enhanced security check.  I was not trying to prove anything or make a point about rights and am not a forgetful idiot, I just didn’t have my ID with me due to circumstances beyond my control. 

    People are saying the airline wants to verify you are who you are.  I say bull.  I fly multiple times a month and, unless I check a bag, no one at any airline at any airport in the US has ever asked to see my ID in nearly 10 years.   I print my boarding pass at home and only the TSA looks at it along with my ID at the airport.  Even at the gate I just show the bording pass and nothing else to get on the plane.  It seems the airlines have moved the responsibility of verifying the traveller to the TSA and off of them.  Another way to reduce the staffing requirements and “save” money.

    I just flew back from Europe this past weekend and was amazed at how relaxed things are related to ID for European airlines and airports.  Due to last minute changes to my flights made by my US based airline (not at my request, but that is anioher story) I had to get my boarding pass at the airport from a live person.  I only showed the confrimation number and was issued a boarding pass with no questions.  Going through security not even the boarding pass was looked at by security staff and I didn’t have to remove my shoes (and no scanner or groping either).  Transfering at the Frankfurt airport, once again nothing was looked at as I made my way to catch my flight.  I did go through passport control, but only my passport was looked at there.  A United filght was boarding at the gate next to my Lufthansa flight.  Each of those passengers were asked the 3 old questions about packing their carry on baggage and had their passports and tickets revalidated before being allowed on the plane.  Took forever and was expecting the same on my flight.  At boarding time, all we had to do was scan our boarding passed through an automated gate and we were on the plane.  I felt just as safe as I do when I fly in the US and didn’t even think about it until I was already in the air.  If Europe can do this and flights are safe enough to enter the US, why does the US have to add so much more useless theater to air travel?

    1. If the airline asked to see your ID prior to entering the TSA checkpoint…where you will be asked again by a screener…how many people will complain about redundancy in the procedures?

      One can argue the merits of if presenting an ID is truly worthwhile…but needing to do it twice is ridiculous.

      Still looking for a response as to what motivation Southwest would have to refund his money rather than fly him (on a plane that went anyway) and take his ticket revenue. (This paragraph is not directed at Mark K but anyone.)

      1. DavidS, I see your point. The agent could easily have asked him for something else (perhaps a credit card, Frequent Flyer #, etc.) and match that with his PNR. Maybe there is something else in this story we don’t know that would cause the agent to deny him boarding. Fishy how he was more interested in getting more money out of the airline than getting to his destination.

        1. I have a crazy theory. My instinct tells me he arrived at the airport very close to departure time. He probably checked in in advance or at the kiosk and attempted to clear the TSA checkpoint with only his boarding pass. Due to the delay in not having an ID and his “interrogation” he was now going to miss the flight. Southwest offered a refund based on the contract of carriage and he accepted.

          I wish Chris would provide more details as to what time he arrived, what time was his flight and how he checked in so we would be able to rule out some things…maybe even this theory! 

          Since we are lacking some of the keys facts, I have to wonder what Southwest’s motivation is to sell a ticket on a flight, refund said ticket, operate the flight with less incremental revenue and make a profit. I love this business model!! 😉

    2. Where did you fly from, if I may ask?

      Your account is quite a bit different from what I’ve experienced in Europe. Obviously it differs from one country to another, from Schengen to non-Schengen, EU vs non-EU, etc., but I don’t recall never having had to show my ID? Of course, passport control is an ID check….

      That said, I don’t disagree on your view about Europe having a more “relaxed” approach to the whole thing – I guess I just always thought it was an American thing that TSA- and CBP-people and whatnot had to be all grumpy and constipated.

      As for security procedures, you don’t have to remove your shoes per default but they may ask you to do so anyway, say, if you’re wearing big boots. There’s the occasional pat-down but much like in the US it’s not something they do to every single passenger. If you’re transferring and you don’t have to leave the so-called secured area to get to the gate of your connecting flight, there’s usually no more checks except boarding pass check at the gate – again, airport-dependent but still much like in the US.

      1. I flew from Bergen Norway to Frankfurt, which both are Schengen but not both EU, and then from Frankfurt to Denver.  This was also the day after the Oslo bombing.  I was expecting much more difficulty.

        The previous time I went through Frankfurt (4 years ago) I changed terminals and had my ID checked at least three times and went through security twice.  This time I only had to walk about 10 gates down from where my first flight ended and just pass through the passport check.  The current trip was definitely the most relaxed as far as airports go.

    3. I have flown frequently in Asia and while passport control is far more efficient, I have had to show my passport multiple times during travel.  It is very common in Asia to “transit” – so while you are still behind the security wall and simply making a connection, you must re-screen your luggage and have your passport checked.  You might as well just leave the passport out. 

      1. The procedure you’re describing is not just an Asian thing. Canada and Norway do something similar if
        you’re arriving from abroad and have a domestic connecting flight.  

  36. Unless your wallet was stolen or something similar happened, there is absolutely no cause to fly without an ID.  None.  I think he was lucky to get a refund at all.  Seems like a moron to me.

  37. Why should the passenger get more than a full refund on account of his own failure to have his ID? If the airline provided more than a full refund in such a circumstance, they would be opening themselves up to having people book flights just so they could show up at the airport without ID and collect more than a full refund.

    The overbooking situation is different, because in that case the boarding denial would be primarily the airline’s fault.

  38. It’s in Southwest’s contract of carriage.  Section 6a(6).  It falls very clearly under refusal to transport and states that without “acceptable id” they can deny transportation and are only on the hook to give you back your unused fare.  

    It’s contractual and fairly simple.  Sort of weird that they’re being more strict than the TSA … but it is there in black and white.  

  39. Patsy 3 hours ago in reply to joshua82
    Because we live in a culture where it’s some other guys fault. =====================And Southwest employees are so busy powertripping instead of just trying to help the guy get where he was going.   Passengers can travel without photo ID as long as they have something with their name on it (credit card, company ID, library card).  Happens all the time and as long as the TSA can still process him/her through security, WN has no right to call the shots regarding the TSA.

    1. funny you call yourself “AirlineEmployee”, when if that’s the case then you would clearly know that SWA was NOT the one who decided this guy couldn’t fly. and even if they did decide that in another case, it is in their COC that customers can be refused transport if they fail to provide identification.

  40. For real?!

    You bring ID to the airport.  Not even debatable.  This guy is a complete loser who can’t even take responsibility for his own actions. 

    That’s a huge problem in today’s society…adults who don’t/won’t/can’t take responsibility for their own actions….scary and sad at the same time…

    1. There has to be more to that story than just “crying” and since they put her up in a hotel and transported her the next day…???

      1. What I find interesting about this story is that there are no mentions of threats of arrest, no cops escorting the sisters off the plane, etc…. Perhaps the flight attendant simply believed that for this woman’s own good, due to her agitated and/or overly emotional conduct, her inability to contain herself, she would be better off not flying anywhere that day?!

  41. I know this article is several days old now, but thought I’d throw my comment in anyway.  There are lots of people on here saying that there really isn’t any good reason to try to fly without an ID.  Several years ago my sister passed away and we (my elderly mom, brother and sis-in-law, my daughter and I) made last minute arrangements to fly from CA to CO where she lived.  We were all very upset over our loss and we just wanted to get to CO to be with my sister’s family.  We rushed to get packed and get on our way.  When we got to the airport, I started digging in my mom’s purse to find her ID only to realize it wasn’t there.  She had no idea where it could be – she hadn’t driven in a couple of years and hadn’t used it for a while.  Of course, they ended up allowing her to fly with just a few extra questions and a quick, non invasive pat down.  This is just one of the many reasons why a person might not have their ID and we would have been devistated if they had not allowed my mom to fly after just loosing her daughter.

  42. Chris, why are you coddling yet another whiner whose travel misfortunes are no one’s fault but his own?  IMO: Forget the “secondary screening” BS; if you don’t have ID, you shouldn’t be able to fly, period!

  43. Hmm, I’ll have to remember that.  If I have to cancel a nonrefundable ticket at the last minute because something comes up, I can just show up at the airport without an ID and get a full refund.  This guy is brilliant!

  44. Hello, when have you ever been able to fly in the past 10 years without identification…for once i agree with the airlines

  45. Since federal law explicitly allows people to travel without ID, I think it’s not Southwest’s place to decide he can’t, and if they choose to make that decision, they should have to provide whatever compensation they would provide had they denied him boarding for any other reason.

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