It’s inevitable that every several months or so, some cute kid gets their mug posted on a major news publication with a headline reading something like: “Does this look like a terrorist to you?” Anything involving kids or cats gets tons of mileage and everybody starts tweeting and retweeting that there’s an 8 year old on the no fly list.
There are no children on the No Fly or Selectee lists.
What happens is the child’s name is a match or similar match to an actual individual on the No Fly or Selectee Watch List.
From TSA.gov: Airlines can and should automatically de-select any 8-year-olds out there that appear to be on a watch list. Whether you're eight or 80, the most common occurrence is name confusion and individuals are told they are on the no fly list when in fact, they are not. If you get a boarding pass, you’re not on the no fly list.
The no fly list is reserved for individuals that pose a known threat to aviation. The list is an important tool in our multi-layered approach to aviation security and is used daily to keep individuals that pose a threat to aviation off airplanes.
For more information on the list and to learn about the redress process for individuals that believe they may be on a watch list erroneously, click here .
Secure Flight will fix most of these problems in the future. Secure Flight matches passenger information provided by the airlines with data contained in government-maintained watch list records and verifies any potential matches.
Airlines are beginning to ask for name, date of birth, and gender as it appears on the government ID you plan to use when traveling. This is a part of the Secure Flight program requirements. The program will be in full effect for domestic airlines by mid-year and the rest of the airlines are scheduled to be on board by the end of 2010. Initial estimates indicate that under Secure Flight, in excess of 99 percent of passengers who provided the additional data elements will be able to use Internet check-in, kiosks and experience no delays in obtaining their boarding passes.
In the short term, individuals who have been misidentified as a match or possible match for a Watch List can work through the DHS Redress process to resolve the issue.
Secure Flight Related Posts on the TSA Blog
***Update 1/19/2010 - 4:45 PM***
First and foremost, I want to clarify that my post wasn’t directed at this or any family who have been inconvenienced in situations such as this, but more at the perpetual reporting that there are children on the No Fly list. As a father of two young children, I sympathize with any parent’s frustration at being told their child is on a terrorist watch list, and empathize with any parent going through that situation. It’s terrible.
We’ve said it before , there are no 8 year olds – or other children – on the No Fly or Selectee lists. We may not own the lists (the Terrorist Screening Center does), but we know that kids aren’t on them for sure. The ticketing agent, sky cap or other airline employees at the airport do not know who is on or not on a watch list, and they have no business telling a parent that their kid is on one because it’s simply not true. Airlines can and should automatically de-select any child that appears to be on a watch list when they see them at the check-in counter. You can also check this out for other debunked myths about watch lists.
Anyone who can’t print a boarding pass from home or at a kiosk because they are currently misidentified with someone who is actually on the list should apply for redress to fix the problem. And as I’ve said before, TSA is working to implement the Secure Flight program, which brings watch list matching back to TSA from the airlines. When people provide their date of birth and gender when booking their flight under Secure Flight, it will eliminate about 99% of misidentifications once its fully implemented.
For anybody who is new to the TSA Blog, please know that I’m a blogger and not an official TSA media spokesperson.
The way I write and address issues is different than a spokesperson would address issues with traditional media, and I certainly didn’t mean to belittle the experience of any families who have been through this.
TSA Blog Team