Today I was traveling from my new hometown, Las Vegas, to San Antonio.
Anyone that knows me understands that I find the TSA to be a bunch of clowns. There are a number of reasons for this, the least of which is that they just can't seem to be consistent, and they just can't seem to get things right.
First, I just renewed my license in the State of Utah. It expires on my birthday (the 30th of this month) and I was not sure I'd have time to get a new Nevada license before it expired. When you renew (or loose) your license in Utah, you get a temporary paper license that is good for 6 months. They mail you the permanent license a month or two down the road.
About 6 months ago I lost my license and had a temporary paper license for almost 3 months before I got my good license. During that time, I traveled all over the place including really sensitive airports like Washington, D.C., Orlando and L.A. I used my paper license (which has my picture on it) at every TSA checkpoint without a problem.
Today, I walked up to the agent/officer/whatever who was checking drivers licenses with my temporary license in hand. The jack booted thug in uniform (sorry, it just irritates me) looks at my temporary license and says "Sir, I can't take this".
Mouth agape, I ask the obvious question, "Why not?"
"Because it's paper", she replied.
"Yes, but it's a government issued ID. It has my photo on it." I said.
"Sorry. Our SOP says it can't be paper.", she replies.
Now, what do the TSA guidelines say about ID requirements? This is the main tag line:
“Adult passengers (18 and over) are required to show a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID in order to be allowed to go through the checkpoint and onto their flight.” (see http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/acceptable_documents.shtm). Now, this web site goes on to list, as an acceptable form of ID the following:
* Drivers Licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
So to me, this clearly implies that my temporary drivers license, with a photograph, is acceptable based on the requirements states on the web site.
I engaged the agent further and asked for a supervisor. To me, this is a major issue. First, it's clearly an inconsistency issue within the TSA. In my mind, they have gone loco, deciding to enforce one set of rules in one place and a second set of rules in a second place.
Second, what happens to the normal traveler who is carrying a temporary, state issued, drivers license and they don't have an alternate form of ID? The TSA web-site says:
"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."
So it seems they will give us a hard time but if we can provide some other means of identification that they might, if they are feeling giving, let us get on our plane and fly. Of course, who knows what kinds of humiliation we will need to go through (pat downs, etc) in the process.
So the bottom line is that our friends at the TSA need to get their act together. They need to start doing their jobs and stop hassling the normal traveling public and concentrate on finding the bad guys. It's all a sham anyway. While I agree that the introduction of security measures such as metal detectors in the 70's went a long way to stop hijackings, I think it has done little to prevent terror except to terrorize and inconvenience the innocent citizen.