Airport security is notoriously strict, but travelers who are prepared often have a less stressful experience. When traveling at U.S. airports, it's necessary to go through security checkpoints managed by the Transportation Security Administration, or the TSA, which ensures the safety of air travel. Be sure to bring along a valid form of identification when flying to ensure a quick passage through the TSA process.
Going Through the TSA Screenings
All airline passengers are required to pass through the TSA's security checkpoints on the way to their gate. The screenings involve metal detectors and luggage X-ray screenings, and each adult traveler will need to show a valid form of ID along with their airline ticket when entering the screening line. It's important to have your correct ID ready to go to help expedite the process.
Each adult traveler over the age of 18 must show an ID when entering the TSA checkpoints. There are numerous forms of valid ID, including driver's licenses or other state photo ID cards issued by a Department of Motor Vehicles and U.S. passports or passport books. Travelers can also use a permanent resident card, foreign government-issued passport, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card, border crossing card or HSPD-12 PIV card. For a full list of valid IDs, check the TSA website.
Children under 18 years of age are not required to show an ID when traveling within the U.S. and when accompanied by an adult companion. International travelers will still need a passport, even when underage. Check with your airport before traveling to see if your child needs a specific ID.
REAL ID Driver's Licenses
As of January 2018, passengers can use only a driver's license that follows REAL ID guidelines. This basically means that a driver's license has to look a certain way and contain certain security measures, which are set by the government. Most states are now compliant with the REAL ID rules, but not all passengers may have one. If you don't have a REAL ID driver's license, you'll need to show a second form of ID at the TSA checkpoint. A passport is a good second option, but there are numerous forms of ID allowed by the TSA. See the full list on the TSA website.
Forgetting an ID
It may be possible to fly even if you forget or lose your ID. The TSA officers can screen passengers with an identity verification process, which collects information like your name and current address. If you're confirmed, you'll be allowed to fly, although you may be subject to additional screening like a pat-down. Arrive at least two hours before a flight to ensure there are no delays or issues at the checkpoints.