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TSA Secure Flight

Secure Flight Overview

Secure Flight is a program developed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a key 9/11 Commission recommendation: uniform watch list matching by TSA. The mission of the Secure Flight program is to enhance the security of domestic and international commercial air travel through the use of improved watch list matching.     

Secure Flight conducts uniform prescreening of passenger information against federal government watchlists for domestic and international flights. TSA has taken over the responsibility for checking passengers against government watchlists. Secure Flight passenger watchlist matching applies to all domestic and international passengers traveling on covered aircraft operator flights into, out of, within or over the United States. Secure Flight also applies to point-to-point international flights operated by U.S.-based aircraft operators.

By assuming watchlist matching responsibilities from the airlines, TSA:

  • Decreases the chance for compromised watchlist data by limiting its distribution.
  • 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.
  • Reduces instances of misidentified individuals.
  • Offers consistent application of an expedited and integrated redress process for misidentified individuals via the Department of Homeland Security's Travel Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP).

Secure Flight matches the name, date of birth and gender information for each passenger against government watchlists to:

  • Identify known and suspected terrorists.
  • Prevent individuals on the No Fly List from boarding an aircraft.
  • Identify individuals on the Selectee List for enhanced screening.
  • Facilitate passenger air travel.
  • Protect individuals' privacy.

After matching passenger information against government watchlists, Secure Flight transmits the matching results back to aircraft operators.

TSA is not requiring individuals to provide other information such as passport information and known redress number (if available) to aircraft operators. However, covered aircraft operators must transmit such information to TSA if it is provided by the passenger. Providing the optional information is beneficial to passengers as it helps ensure they are not misidentified as a person on a watchlist.

Secure Flight does NOT assign a score to individuals, use commercial data or predict behavior.

Secure Flight Program FAQs

Q. What is Secure Flight and what does it do?

A. Secure Flight is a behind-the-scenes program that streamlines the watchlist matching process. It improves the travel experience for all passengers, including those who have been misidentified in the past.

Q. Are all airlines participating in the Secure Flight program at this time?

A. Yes, 100% of domestic and foreign airlines with flights into, out of and within the United States are deployed to Secure Flight.

Q. If the name printed on my boarding pass is different than what appears on my government ID, will I still be able to fly?

A. Boarding passes may not always display the exact name you provided when booking your travel. The name you provide when booking your travel is used to perform the watchlist matching before a boarding pass is ever issued, so small differences should not impact your travel. Secure Flight is a behind-the-scenes process that TSA and airlines collaborate on to compare the information you provide against government watchlists. The additional data elements that you may be asked to provide, such as date of birth and gender, serve to better differentiate you from individuals on the government watchlist.

You should ensure that the name provided when booking your travel matches the government ID that you will use when traveling. However, TSA has built some flexibility into the processes regarding passenger name accuracy. For the near future, small differences between the passenger’s ID and the passenger’s reservation information, such as the use of a middle initial instead of a full middle name or no middle name/initial at all, should not cause a problem for the passenger. Over time, passengers should strive to obtain consistency between the name on their ID and their travel information.

Q. What if my name and ID do not exactly match when I arrive at security? Will I be turned away and unable to fly?

A. No. Secure Flight does not impact the process at the security checkpoint in any way. At the security checkpoint, TSA strives to ensure you are who you say you are. TSA performs travel document checking to see that you, your identification and your boarding pass match and are valid. TSA performs this function because identity matters and it is critical to security to ensure that individuals with hostile intent do not board aircraft. Secure Flight will not impact the security checkpoint experience. While Secure Flight and travel document checking are both critical security functions, they serve different purposes at different points in the security process.

Q. Does the name on all of my IDs have to match? What if my driver's license has only my middle initial, but my passport has my full name? Should I change my driver's license to match my passport?

A. Secure Flight does not require that the names on all of your IDs be identical. Passengers should provide their name as it appears on the government-issued ID they plan to use when traveling. This provides TSA the best information possible to use when performing watch list matching. This will result in a better process for travelers and greatly reduces the number of misidentifications. By adding date of birth and gender, the number of misidentifications is reduced further and TSA can more readily identify passengers who do not pose a threat.