Last month, TSA announced a change of policy: passengers who “willfully refuse to provide identification at security checkpoint will be denied access … This new procedure will not affect passengers that may have misplaced, lost or otherwise do not have ID but are cooperative with officers.”Think about that. The standard for flying without ID depends on whether you're failing to provide ID on principle — if you are, you will be punished for it.
Sherri tried “I lost my wallet.” The results are instructive. My favourite bit of analysis:
Recall that to indicate that I required extra screening, staff wrote in red Sharpie on my boarding pass. If I had simply printed off a second boarding pass at home, I could have presented that instead of the marked one, and gone through the metal detector as usual. In other words, passengers without ID can travel without undergoing any extra screening other than “identity verification.” A lawyer friend of mine commented that “if TSA marked ‘SSSS’ on a person’s hand rather than a piece if paper … the airport’s security would at least be as good as a bar’s.”