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Frequently Asked Questions - Secure Flight

Secure Flight Basics

What information is collected by Secure Flight?
TSA collects the following information, known as Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD)(.pdf, 192kb) for flights into, out of, within, and over the continental United States:

  • Full Name (as it appears on the government-issued identification [ID] the passenger plans to use when traveling)
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Redress Number (if applicable)

What is the objective of Secure Flight?
The goals of the program are to:

  • Support TSA’s Risk-Based Security (RBS) mission by identifying high-risk passengers for appropriate security measures/actions and identifying low-risk passengers for expedited screening

  • Prevent individuals on the No Fly List from boarding an aircraft

  • Identify individuals on the Selectee List for enhanced screening

  • Minimize misidentification of individuals as potential threats to aviation security

  • Incorporate additional risk-based security capabilities to streamline processes and accommodate additional aviation populations

  • Protect passengers’ personal information from unauthorized use and disclosure

What are the benefits provided by Secure Flight?
TSA's Secure Flight program::

  • Provides earlier identification of potential matches, allowing for expedited notification of law enforcement and threat management
  • Provides a fair, equitable, and consistent matching process across all airlines
  • Offers consistent application of an integrated redress process for misidentified individuals via the Department of Homeland Security's Travel Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP)

Why am I required to provide my full name, date of birth, and gender under Secure Flight?
TSA collects this information to significantly decrease the likelihood of a passenger being misidentified as a match to the watch lists.  TSA carefully considered the costs and benefits of the Secure Flight program, and is requiring the collection of the minimum amount of personal information necessary to conduct effective watch list matching.  More than 99 percent of passengers who provide Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) are cleared by Secure Flight in advance of airport arrival and do not experience delays in obtaining boarding passes.

What laws mandate Secure Flight?
The 9/11 Commission Report recommended that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) take over watch list matching from aircraft operators. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004 codified this recommendation into law, and requires DHS and TSA to assume from aircraft operators the function of conducting pre-flight comparisons of passenger information to federal government watch lists. TSA implemented the Secure Flight program to meet this Congressional mandate. The Secure Flight Final Rule provides the regulatory authority for the implementation of the Secure Flight program.

What This Means For You As A Traveler

Up to what point before a flight are airlines able to submit my passenger data to Secure Flight for matching against the government watch lists?
Passengers can provide information up until the time of a flight’s departure. If a passenger does not provide all necessary information for watch list matching when booking a reservation, he/she will be directed to provide the remaining information at airline ticket counters or kiosks upon arrival at the airport for a flight.

Can I get last-minute tickets?
Yes. Secure Flight is designed with the capability to perform real-time matching for all flights, to include next-day or same-day flights. Watch list matching takes a matter of seconds and can be conducted up until the time of a flight’s departure.

If the name printed on my boarding pass is different than what appears on my government ID, will I be turned away at security and unable to fly?
Boarding passes may not always display the exact name you provided when booking your travel. The name you provide is used to perform watch list matching before a boarding pass is issued, so small differences should not impact your travel.

Redress - For Passengers Who Have Been Misidentified

What is Redress?
Redress is an opportunity for passengers who believe they have been improperly or unfairly delayed or prohibited from boarding an aircraft to seek resolution and avoid future delays.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) provides a one-stop shop for passengers seeking redress. Secure Flight uses the results of the redress process in its watch list matching process to help prevent future delays for misidentified passengers.  For more information on the redress process, visit www.dhs.gov/trip.

How does Secure Flight use the Redress Number?
Secure Flight uses the results of the redress process in its watch list matching process, thus helping to prevent future misidentifications for passengers who may have a name that's similar to an individual name on the watch lists.

How do I use the Redress Number?
After receiving the Redress Number, passengers should provide the number to their travel arranger or airline representative when making airline reservations.  By doing so, passengers can avoid inconveniences or delays that may result from mistaken identity.  If passengers are not asked for the Redress Number by their travel arranger or airline representative, they should volunteer the number to the agent taking the reservation or provide the Redress Number when checking in for their flight.

Once I have a Redress Number, will my travel experience be better?
After submitting your application for redress, you will receive your Redress Number immediately.  This number is used to track your application, but will also serve as the number to be provided when traveling in the future.  Please bear in mind that even though you have been assigned a Redress Number, your application must still be processed.  Once your application is processed and finalized, you will be notified with a letter.

Please note that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can neither confirm nor deny whether an individual is on the Federal watch lists because this information is derived from classified and sensitive law enforcement and intelligence information.  In addition, DHS cannot ensure that your travel will always be delay-free.  Airline check-in procedures must still be followed and other security measures remain in place at the airport.

How long is a Redress Number?
A Redress Number is seven digits long.

What is the difference between a Redress Number and a Redress Control Number?
The official term used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Travel Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) is Redress Control Number (RCN). Many people simply refer to this as a Redress Number.  These terms all refer to the same number.

Where can I apply?
To apply for redress through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Transportation Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP), visit www.dhs.gov/trip.

Who do I contact if I need my Redress Number?
To check the status of your inquiry, go to Check Status and enter your Redress Number. If you have lost or misplaced your Redress Number, contact the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Transportation Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) by e-mail at trip@dhs.gov.

Who do I contact if I have additional questions about redress?
For more information on the redress process and how to apply, visit More Info or e-mail trip@dhs.gov.

Protecting Your Privacy

What has TSA done to ensure my private information is safeguarded?
Ensuring individuals’ privacy is a cornerstone of Secure Flight. TSA has developed a comprehensive privacy plan to incorporate privacy laws and practices into all areas of the Secure Flight program in order to maximize individual privacy.

TSA collects the minimum amount of personal information necessary to conduct effective watch list matching. TSA issued a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) and System of Records Notice (SORN) to provide detailed information about the Secure Flight’s privacy approach in conjunction with the Secure Flight Final Rule.

Does TSA use commercial data to conduct watch list matching?
No. Secure Flight does not use commercial data (e.g., financial account numbers, credit card numbers, etc.) to conduct watch list matching.

Updating Your Flyer Accounts

Will Secure Flight affect my airline frequent flyer accounts? I have heard that if the name I use to make my reservation matches my ID but not my frequent flyer account that the airline’s frequent flyer system will not recognize my name. What should I do?
Passengers should ensure that the name used when making a reservation matches their government-issued identification (ID) used when traveling. If that name differs from the one on their frequent flyer account, passengers should consult the airline’s frequent flyer program regarding the process to update their frequent flyer account information.

How Secure Flight Fits With Other DHS Programs

How has DHS worked to ensure that Secure Flight fits with other vetting programs?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to providing “One DHS Solution” for passenger vetting programs. TSA works with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to ensure consistency with the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS), the border security vetting program used for international passengers flying into and out of the United States. CBP and TSA have coordinated their respective rulemaking processes to facilitate consistency across the APIS and Secure Flight programs. Additionally, CBP and TSA published a Consolidated User Guide for the airlines to demonstrate how the two agencies collaborate to provide one set of system requirements for airlines. Under the Secure Flight Final Rule, TSA promotes consistency for airlines by assuming responsibility for watch list matching for both domestic and international passengers.

Airlines

How did the implementation of Secure Flight change the way airlines operate?
The Secure Flight Final Rule established new requirements for airlines regarding the watch list matching process. For more information on the specific requirements for airlines under the Secure Flight Final Rule, click here.

When was Secure Flight implemented?
Secure Flight required that all airlines request and collect Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) as of October 2009. As of November 2010, 100 percent of domestic and foreign airlines with flights into, out of, and within the United States are now deployed to TSA’s watch list matching program, Secure Flight – fulfilling a key 9/11 Commission recommendation a month ahead of schedule.

What sort of training is provided to airline staff?
An updated Consolidated User Guide (CUG) that provides technical and operational guidance for the implementation of Secure Flight was distributed to airlines on the TSA Web Board.  Secure Flight provides training support materials for airlines, but airlines are responsible for implementing training at designated airports and facilities.

Travel Agencies

What should third-party providers tell customers about Secure Flight?
Under Secure Flight, airlines are required to collect and submit a passenger's name (as it appears on their government-issued identification [ID]), date of birth, gender, and Redress Number (if available) to TSA 72 hours prior to scheduled departure on flights into, out of, and within the continental United States.

It is important to help passengers understand that they are required to provide the information and that providing the additional information under Secure Flight will help differentiate a passenger from an individual on the watch lists and prevent misidentification. Secure Flight continues to work with the travel industry to help educate passengers about the required information.

What Secure Flight information do we have to collect?
Under the Secure Flight Final Rule, airlines are required to request and submit to TSA the following passenger information:

  • Name (as it appears on the government-issued identification [ID] the passenger plans to use when traveling)
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Redress Number (if applicable)

The airline must collect this information for all reservations 72 hours prior to the scheduled time of flight departure. It is the responsibility of the airline to determine how and when it will collect passenger information. TSA expects that the airlines that hold the inventory for the flights you sell will work closely with you on these requirements.

Are third-party providers (e.g., travel agents) legally obligated to collect the required information?
While the Secure Flight Final Rule does not directly regulate travel agents, it does require that all covered airlines collect full name, date of birth, gender, and Redress Number (if available) for all covered flights regardless of booking channel (including bookings by third parties). Each covered airline must ensure that each third-party provider that accepts a reservation on the covered airline's behalf complies with this requirement.

Latest revision: 19 March 2014