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TSA ID requirements for unaccompanied minors

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Dec 6th, 2010, 06:51 AM
  #1
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TSA ID requirements for unaccompanied minors

I have searched back threads for this, and haven't found anything since 2007, so ....

Has anyone had experience with unaccompanied minors going through security lately?

My nieces, ages 12 and 15, will be flying to see me, on Southwest Airlines. Technically, Southwest does not consider 12 and up to be an "unaccompanied minor," so the information they have is pretty minimal. I was told both children just need a copy of their birth certificates to show proof of age.

The TSA website is also of little use. It only talks about adult passengers and adults traveling with children, but not children traveling alone.
http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtrav...documents.shtm
http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtrav...xperience.shtm

They are traveling in a couple weeks (Christmas), so there is not enough time to get either of them a passport or passport card, and in their home state both are too young for a drivers license/learner's permit or state ID card.

So .... Are birth certificate and boarding pass sufficient?

Thx!
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Dec 6th, 2010, 07:00 AM
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The rules may have changed, but my kids always brought their school ID cards... they were picture ID... plus birth cert...

also check the airline sites... they have extensive boarding information.... good luck
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Dec 6th, 2010, 07:17 AM
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The 12-year-old is in middle school which does not issue picture IDs.

I have checked the Southwest website. They have extensive information for unaccompanied minors, which the airline does not consider my nieces since they are both over age 11. I also called Southwest, and was told birth certificate only.

My sister and I both flew unaccompanied extensively as children, but that was well before TSA. I am hoping someone has some recent experience, specifically with the TSA checkpoints and what to expect.
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Dec 6th, 2010, 08:06 AM
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What makes you think the airline doesn't already know 'what to expect?'
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Dec 6th, 2010, 08:37 AM
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My specific question "has anyone had experience with unaccompanied minors going through security lately?"

While I appreciate all input, I started this thread in hopes that, if anyone has had a recent experience with unaccompanied minors going through TSA, they please share it.
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Dec 6th, 2010, 08:53 AM
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There is NO requirement that those under age 18 have ID to fly - although I admit that this seems a potential security lapse. Even the SWA website says so - as does the link to US Dept of Transportation brochure on children flying alone.

There is a "suggestion" that if a child appears to be at borderline of age requirments for one regulation or another (such as requiring an airline paid escort, near age 18) a child bring birth certificate.

If it were my family members, however, I would stick a copy of their birth certifcates in their pocket. I might also get a letter from parents allowing them to fly - although neither of these things are required.

Although you did not ask, you need to have a notarized letter from one or both parents allowing you to seek medical care for your nieces while visiting you - as well as health insurance and emergency contact/cell phone info for one or both parents (but this has nothing to do with the air travel)

Enjoy their visit.

But think realistically - a birth certificate proves nothing. It has no photo - you could carry anyones birth certificate and say it is yours if you have no govt-issued photo ID to back it up. And in many states schools do not issue kids IDs and state may have no formal ID procedure for kids (MA does not).
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Dec 6th, 2010, 09:50 AM
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Thanks Gail.

Okay, it seems odd that there are *no* ID requirements.

My sister is planning to ask for an "escort pass" to accompany the girls to the gate, but when I was on the phone with Southwest they seemed to think that was an odd request (said they really only do that with children under 12). I guess I'll just ask them to go very early and keep fingers crossed.
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Dec 6th, 2010, 12:24 PM
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Your sister can certainly ask for a pass thru security if she wants - I am the chief nervous-when-kids-are-traveling-parent. (My 20 year old is, at this moment, backpacking thru Peru - and at 15 I put her on a plane to Spain, where she had a plane change in Madrid, to visit an ex-exchange student). While 2+ years ago, this same daughter flew quite a bit within US, never being asked for ID, between ages of 15-18.

They will be fine - the high school the older one goes to is probably more complicated than an airport terminal past security. She knows her kids better than anyone - and she has to do whatever makes her comfortable. I would make sure they have a cell phone with them, and completely understand what happens at security, upon boarding, in flight - and exactly what to do when they get off.
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Dec 7th, 2010, 07:38 AM
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Are you sure they can't get state ID's? I would think the 15yo could for sure, and probably the 12yo too.

My DS had a state ID at about age 12 or 13 since it made it easier for him to fly to camp. It required all the same information as they will need to get their drivers licenses in the future (Birth Certificate, SS Card, etc). Your sister may want to call or stop into a license bureau to ask.
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Dec 7th, 2010, 08:39 AM
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Liz - not all states have state IDs for those below driving age. My state, MA, does not. Their rationale is that it is a Motor Vehicle Dept, not an ID dept.
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Dec 7th, 2010, 08:55 AM
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What gail said about state IDs.

NinaSearching, my nephew has been flying unaccompanied for several years now. He's used his school ID recently, but before that he had no school-issued ID and always took his birth certificate. He only had a problem once - he was selected for secondary screening because of his age (he was 16 at the time) and not having photo ID. This was before the new "enhanced" pat-downs, thank heaven.

I don't know why the escort pass would be a problem. My sister has been able to get them in the past, and when the nephew met me in NY this summer, the gate agent offered me one when we checked him in at the airport for his return flight. There was much eye-rolling from the nephew, so I didn't take the agent up on his offer. ;-)
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Dec 7th, 2010, 09:05 AM
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Southwest generally doesn't ask for ID's from kids. But a school ID should be fine and a copy of the birth certifate couldn't hurt! Better safe than sorry!
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Dec 7th, 2010, 11:04 AM
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almost all police or sheriff departments have child ID programs... a call wouldn't hurt...
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Dec 7th, 2010, 01:06 PM
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"not all states have state IDs for those below driving age. My state, MA, does not. Their rationale is that it is a Motor Vehicle Dept, not an ID dept."

I'm just curious how adults in your state go about getting a photo ID if they don't drive.....
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Dec 7th, 2010, 01:15 PM
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Jean, if gail's state is like mine, you can get an ID if you are at or above driving age, but not if you are below it as gail noted.
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Dec 7th, 2010, 04:38 PM
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JeanH in our state, you go to the motor vehicle office, wait in line a loooong time, present your birth certificate, a bill addressed to you at your proper address, pay a fee, have your picture taken and are given an id that looks similar to a driver's.
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Dec 7th, 2010, 05:32 PM
  #17
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Thank yall so much for your help.

We'll go with the birth certificates and escort passes for now. Neither of the girls have been on a plane since they were toddlers, so will definitely want to be walked to the gate.

Thanks again!
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Dec 31st, 2010, 10:54 AM
  #18
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Thanks, again, everyone for your input.

Just to update: My nieces both came to visit. They flew BWI --> DTW alone and I flew back with them DTW --> BWI. They brought their birth certificates (no picture ID), but never had occasion to show it, neither at the Southwest counter nor at TSA. Because they are both over 12, they boarded regular (not family or early boarding), so on the flight coming they had to sit separately (both in middle seats). Coming back the flight was less full so we were able to sit 3-together.

It does seem like this is a major security loophole, given that someone could just "look young" or mis-state their age and sail right through, but for us it turned out to be a good thing, so I'm not complaining!
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Jan 1st, 2011, 08:17 AM
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Good to know that everything worked out for you.
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