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After hip-hop artist G-Eazy recently misplaced his ID on tour, he managed to convince the TSA to let him through security by holding up a magazine featuring his photo on the cover.
But for those of us who aren’t magazine-famous, what are our options?
The formal response from the TSA is this: As long as security agents can reasonably identify you, you may be allowed to board at their discretion:
In the event you arrive at the airport without proper ID, because it is lost or at home, you may still be allowed to fly. By providing additional information, TSA has other ways to confirm your identity, like using publicly available databases, so you can reach your flight.
If your identity cannot be verified, you will not be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint.
We’ve previously identified 12 forms of alternative ID that you can use in a pinch, in lieu of more formal identification. While none of these are guaranteed to work, they’re worth a shot when you’re in a tight situation. Some of the suggestions include credit cards that match the name on your boarding pass, photos or scans of your passport or driver license, or student IDs, especially ones that include your photo.
After G-Eazy’s experience, we decided to ask TPG Lounge readers for their own personal anecdotes of getting through security without their IDs. What forms of ID has TSA accepted in lieu of formal identification? Here’s what they told us…
Credit Cards or Personal Checks
“At LAS, I showed credit cards and what not and it was fine, they patted me down but it took an extra 30 seconds max.” – KV F.
“They wouldn’t let me through with my passport photos on my phone. But eventually, they let me through because I had credit cards with me. They also searched my bags and did a full pat-down.” – Thomas J.
“I had other cards in my wallet with my name — no photo (insurance and the like) so they issued me a security pass and I got a thorough pat-down from TSA and was able to catch my flight.” – Susan P.
“Checkbook, several times.” – Eric L.
“I lost my ID while traveling once. It is actually not a big deal. I had pictures of my passport and my Global Entry number but they didn’t use those. They did ask to see anything that I had with my name on it such as credit cards, etc. You also submit to extra screening (I was patted down) and then you are on your way.” – Rebecca S.
“At Reagan National, … a guy came down, looked wearily at my unshaven excuse for a face and asked, “Got any credit cards with your name?” Showed him my corporate card and he smiled and said, “Have a safe trip Stephen.” – Stephen B.
Health Insurance Card
“I had my purse stolen … I called the airline in advance and they said credit cards and my health insurance card were enough to prove my identity and citizenship.” – Adrienne A.
Utility Bills and Statements
“TSA let my aunt through in Chicago O’Hare when she lost her license accidentally on a trip by showing them 2 recent bills/statements (emailed from home and printed out at our hotel) that matched the name on her ticket. I think it was electric and a bank account statement.” – Fleming W.
“Lost my ID at my destination and needed to get home. Printed off bills with my name on them, expired international drivers license copy, expired passport copy, and in G-Eazy fashion a photo from a conference I just presented at with my name… extra pat down and bag wipe, and then easily on my way. Much better experience than what I anticipated.” – Lindsay Z.
Photographs of Official ID
“A friend of mine showed a photo of his ID on his phone after losing his ID on the trip. They let him through…” Sean K.
“Air France/Norwegian let my wife fly back home without her green card since I had a picture of it on my phone. Glad I took my dad’s advice to have a pic of all our IDs/Passports on my phone. US customs gave her crap, but let her through too.” – David D.
“Yes, I literally lost my entire wallet before arriving at LGA. I had rushed from work and the only ID I had was my work badge. Thankfully, I have pictures of my ID and Passport but it required additional screening after speaking to 3 security agents.” – Haley C.
Have Someone Vouch For You
“My friend lost her wallet and all her ID at Disney. Her husband had his ID and a children’s museum membership card with both their names on it. They let her fly.” – Sarah K.
“My husband forgot his wallet but they let him through because his boss was right there and vouched for him 🤣. Bless!! He did have to fill out a bunch of forms and have a different security screening but at least he got to his meeting 😝” – Kim A.
” I lost my ID while traveling. On my return flight I just showed him my itinerary and he let me through. Another time my father lost his ID and I had gone through pre-check already. I was waiting on the other side. My dad tried talking his way through but they weren’t budging. Then I went over and stood next to him and they changed their tune. 😜” – Robert H.
“We lost our ID and used our crew touring passes for a large touring act and TSA were like, Oh you’re with them, and away we went.” – Chris C.
Elite Status Identification
“Las Vegas! Lost my ID on the inbound flight. Fortunately Bellagio has me on their program so they cut me their card. I showed it to TSA and they said it actually happens all the time in Vegas so they are more lenient than other airports. I was sweating the whole weekend wondering how I was gonna get home. I did not know it would be that easy” – Billy S.
“Using a yearbook!” – DJ M.
“My friend got through TSA at JFK with his high school yearbook as proof of identity about a year ago!” – Claire B.
“Used my PADI Dive Certification card. Thankfully, it worked!” – Claire R.
Global Entry or CLEAR
“I’ve used my Global Entry card to go though.” – Steve D.
“This is a great reason to get CLEAR: All you need is your finger.” – Dejia T.
“I had a temporary Colorado driver license. That was black and white on paper and looked fake. The TSA guy asked if I had anything else. Luckily I had my Global Entry Card on me and that worked.” – John C.
College IDs and Work Security Badges
“I used my college ID when I didn’t have a license.” – Daisy F.
“I used my college ID when I lost my ID in Vegas.” – Chris M.
“I [once] had to fly home from LAX without my driver license after I lost [it] on the way to Los Angeles. My work badge and credit cards and secondary inspection by a supervisor and I was on my way. Side note: No go on a rental car without my license, even though I went through there every week at the time.” – Charity B.
“Shortly after I got married… my business trip got booked in my maiden name, which I didn’t realize until I got to TSA. Luckily I had my work badge, also still in my maiden name, with my picture on it… and TSA let me through!” – Nina S.
“Once in college I lost my driver license but had my Library of Congress card. It’s a federally issued photo ID, so they let me through with it, although I wonder if that only worked because it was DCA [Washington National Airport].” – Aaron B.
“I saw a guy in front of me use his library card, saying that his ID was stolen. I thought it was a bit strange that they allowed him to fly with a paper that can be made up so easily…” – Paula W.
“Yes, pulled up my Facebook account and my credit cards and got through!” – Christine H.
Costco and Sam’s Club
“I once used a Costco card to make it through security. That was fun as it took a lot of convincing.” – Dillon L.
“Flew to SFO to drop off passport at the Indian Embassy, realized my drivers license missing and had just handed off my passport so they accepted my Costco visa which has my picture on it…easy peasy.” – Mark Z.
“My husband lost his license outbound on a flight. He used his Costco Card as ID on the return flight. Yes. He needed supervisor approval! Even more amazing about 6 weeks later he received a letter in the mail posted from San Francisco with no return address with his NJ License in it!” – Jodi L.
“I lost my ID in the airport, and managed to get through with my Costco card (which had a very grainy picture). I had to sign some extra paperwork and they picked apart every. single. thing. in my luggage, swabbing for explosives or whatever else. But I made my flight.”
“My friend was on his way to BOS from FLL for a funeral. His flight was cancelled, and he rebooked the next day. In his haste to get to the airport the next day, he left his wallet in the sport coat he wore the previous day. Just so happens, he had his Sam’s club card in his carry on. He explained that because of the delay the previous day, he already missed the wake, and today was the funeral. The Sam’s club card worked.” – Bill L.
“Forgot my ID at a bar in Portland last week. … Showed [TSA] my Costco Card, credit cards with matching names, then they pretty much gave me a full shake down. Went thru everything, twice. Not angry at all, it was my dumb a** that left my DL at a bar.” – Matt S.
” I didn’t have my ID once. I showed them my Sam’s Club card along with a few credit cards with my name on them. They let me through but with the SSSS designation so I got an extra pat down.” – Samantha M.
“Lost my license on Amtrak and when I flew back from Boston to Florida, I tried a photo of my passport on my phone (nope), lots of credit cards (nope), and finally my Costco card (Bingo!). No extra screening, just a bit of waiting for a supervisor to OK it.” – Stephanie S.
“Lost my ID and still got on the plane (it took 25 minutes or so and I had to have other ID). It was much harder to rent a car but still managed to do that ( but not at a major chain and it took some work). The hotel accepted my Costco ID to prove who I was.” – Mylinda J.
Charisma, Luck and Invincibility
“In my experience not being able to fly without an ID is a myth, I’ve lost, misplaced my ID 4 times now and never had an issue getting through.” – Will C.
“My father once forgot his ID (a few months after 9/11… He was certain he’d be able to talk his way on board. when I dropped him off at the Atlanta airport I hovered around because I was pretty sure he wouldn’t get through. Next thing I know he’s calling me telling me not only did he get on, he was upgraded to 1st CLASS! (He knew the ticket agent’s grandfather in NM! Small world!)” – Evelyn E.
“No smooth talking required whatsoever. This happens more often than most would think. Even without any picture ids or credit cards, they walk you through an interview. Pull up your drivers license photo, ask you similar questions to a credit report (which of these companies have you had a mortgage with, etc…) and then you’re on your way. Obviously don’t do it on purpose, but for a domestic trip if you have lost your wallet/purse/backpack then just be honest and it will work out.” – Byron B.
“A friend of mine’s brother didn’t have any ID. They asked all these crazy personal questions, like what color his mom’s neighbor’s house is and what address he was living at during what year. I guess he knew the answers because they let him through.” –Renee B.
“I lost my ID on the plane on a round trip ticket. When I came back, TSA asked for my itinerary. Then they asked me who my neighbors were, etc. After that, I was cleared to fly. It was kind of freaky that they knew that much about me.” – Kim M.
“When my son was in college, I took away his driver’s license for getting a really, really bad speeding ticket, forgetting that he had to take a plane back to Boston for school. At LAX the first TSA agent wouldn’t let him through security with just his college ID. He went to another line and told the agent he was 17, a minor. That agent let him through with no questions.” – Ann B.
“When I get a new license, I immediately spend the $10 to get a duplicate. I keep one on my carry-on and the other in my wallet. Such good peace of mind for $10.” – Pat R.
“A friend and I were comparing licenses one day on a school trip and accidentally ended up with each other’s. We both managed to get through TSA with the wrong IDs and nobody said a word…” – Hayley D.
“Had my wallet stolen in New Orleans. Hotel I was staying at said not to worry, happens all the time, you’ll be able to fly out. They told me to call the police to report it and the police faxed me an “identity verification form”. Walked up to TSA hoping it would work. Agent looked at my tired, sunburned face, patted me on the hand and said go on home honey, it’ll get better. 😂” – Donna G.
After reading all of these impressive answers, we can only echo TPG Lounge reader Amanda W.’s comment: “I wonder if Costco knows how powerful their cards really are?? 😂”
Featured photo courtesy of Getty Images.
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