Ever wonder what would happen if you lose your ID or if it’s stolen while traveling? Fortunately for you, this Traveling Mom went through the worry and stress, so you won’t have to one day. In the event you arrive at the airport without valid identification, because it is lost or at home, you may still be allowed to fly domestically. Here is what to do if you should find yourself in a similar predicament and how you can work with TSA to be cleared to board your flight.  

What to Do When You Lose Your ID Before a Flight

TSA security line. Photo credit: Tara Settembre / VIP TravelingMom

The Lost ID Saga and What Happened Next

It was just supposed to be a quick, three day ski trip to Breckenridge, Colorado without the kids. I was traveling with my husband on Frontier airlines, which charges for carry-ons and checked luggage, so we were keeping it as minimal as possible – one checked bag for the both of us and a purse/satchel each with our gadgets and stuff for the flight . As a result, I left my full wallet behind and simply took a credit card, cash and my license. On the second day, somewhere while Periscoping on the ski lift and during my ski down the mountain (yes, not my most brilliant moment), my ID must have slipped out of my jacket. No one returned it to the lost and found. I was stuck! Even if I had someone overnight my passport to the hotel, it wouldn’t arrive in time for our 7 a.m. flight back home the next day.

I was in a panic and sick to my stomach with worry. How was I going to get home to my kids? Would I have to stay another day, change my flight, buy a new ticket? All the “what ifs” had me going crazy. Meanwhile, my husband was nonchalant. He called Frontier and they said I should still be able to board the flight, to just arrive at the airport and speak to TSA early. To him, the problem was solved. To me, I had just begun worrying. I had my mother scan my passport, social security card and other forms of ID for me, which I printed at the hotel and had on hand for TSA. I did everything I could think of, only to find out that copies aren’t permissible. They barely even looked at them.

Instead they asked for a debit card and an insurance card. I had neither with me, but even if I did, my health insurance card only has my husband’s name on it anyway. I had my Global Entry/TSA Pre✓  number, but not the card with my photo on it, which would have helped since it had my picture and proved that I had already been fingerprinted and screened previously and was cleared. Frustrated, the female TSA officer asked if I had any sort of document or mail with my name and address on it. I automatically said no, when “Eureka” I pulled out a magazine that I had yet to read in my laptop bag, which thankfully had my address on it.  They asked me several other questions, my social security number, etc.

A few minutes later, I was finally cleared for a more thorough screening. I didn’t mind, I was just glad to be putting my stuff on through the security belt at last! The TSA official personally stayed with my bags during this time and then notified a colleague to walk me through the next part. My bags were wiped down and put through the other machine to test for explosives or hazardous materials. After this, I then had a female assist pat down.

Tips if you lose ID when traveling

What to do if you lose your ID when traveling. Photo Credit: Tara Settembre/VIP TravelingMom

The TSA Regarding Lost IDs

According to the TSA official website, an officer may ask you to complete a form to include your name and current address, and may ask additional questions to confirm your identity. If your identity is confirmed, you will be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint where you may be subject to additional screening.

You will not be allowed to fly if your identity cannot be confirmed, you chose to not provide proper identification or you decline to cooperate with the identity verification process.

TSA recommends you to arrive at least two hours in advance of your flight time to allow ample time for security screening and boarding the aircraft.

Final Thoughts

  • Don’t travel with just one ID, because although copies will help your case, something more tangible is needed.
  • Store and save your document numbers and scans in free private Dropbox folder so you can access them remotely if ever needed through their app or website.
  • Always travel with a magazine or some sort of mail with your name on it.
  • Take your debit card, not just a credit card. Previously, I did the opposite in fear of losing my debit card, however, a bank card apparently is considered more official than a credit card.
  • Stay calm. Yes, easier said than done, but at least you now know someone who went through it and it all ended well.
  • Don’t periscope on a ski lift or take a selfie on the mountain! or if you do make sure your ID is in a different zipper.

Has this happened to you? How did you manage to get on your flight? Share with us in the comment section below.