Last week, I recalled how I was in Midland, lost my driver's license, had no other government-issued ID with me ... and still was able to board a flight at Midland Airport to Houston by showing my Costco card at TSA security.
People reacted in three ways:
1. No way you can board a plane in the U.S. with only your Costco card as ID.
2. Not happy to hear you can do that..
3. It happened to me, too!
As Lily Von Shtupp said in Blazing Saddles, it's true, it's true (I don't do accents)!
When I got to the airport in Midland, I tore apart my luggage and wallet, no driver's license. I told my sad sack story to the Southwest counter agent. She gave me a boarding pass and advised me to go to security and talk to the TSA agents. I did.
I opened my wallet and showed the agents a Tiff's cookie gift card, a Costco card, a Visa debit card, and a $20 bill. I travel light. No passport, no driver's license, no Global Entry or TSA PreCheck card. The agent examined my Costco card, checked out the grainy photo on the back, and waved me through security.
When I told friends what happened — that I got through airport security with a Costco card — they shook their heads, like maybe that's not such a good idea. They didn't exactly have a peaceful, easy feeling. I had mixed feelings myself.
If you've ever been a teenager, you know a place where you can get a fake ID. Counterfeiting a Costco card would be simple. Plus, unlike a driver's license, once you get a Costco card, that card stays with you for life. The photo could be you from 20 years ago, before your massive cosmetic surgery to be a TV news anchor in Houston. (I kid because I love.)
I started hearing from readers, who also lost their driver's license and were allowed to board after showing TSA alternative ID, like a Sam's Club membership, employee badge, or school ID.
Here's one: "This happened to me years ago trying to return from Washington D.C. I showed the officials everything I had in my wallet, but nothing had both my name and picture. They finally let me on the plane when I showed them my Cub Scout leader ID."
It turns out that TSA agents are allowed flexibility when a traveler doesn't have a government-issued ID. If you have a card that can be linked to a trusted database, like an American Express card, they may allow you through, after a brief interview and rummaging through your bags.
Maybe I have a lucky face, but the agents said, "Enjoy your flight" without further ado. This wouldn't be a good time to argue with the TSA agents about government intrusion in citizens' private lives, like those idiot Karens and Kens who refuse to wear a face mask at Trader Joe's "because it's not a law."
Microsoft News and a website called "Eat This, Not That," which preaches nutrition and a healthy diet (yes, I see the irony), included details from my CultureMap column in its story titled "This Surprising Secret About Your Costco Card Will Blow Your Mind."
That story linked to another story, "The Craziest IDs That Got People Past The TSA," like the rap artist who showed TSA agents a magazine with his photo on it. The "Craziest IDs" story said, while these forms of ID may not always work, it's worth giving then a shot in a pinch: credit cards, a police report for your stolen wallet, business card with a photo, library card, checkbook, and marriage license. (Who carries their marriage license with them?)
A few years ago, KPIX-TV in San Francisco did an investigative piece, to see if its reporter could board a plane at nearby airports without a government-issued ID. Not only was the reporter allowed past security each time with only a credit card and student ID, TSA agents actually suggested that a Costco card would be a safer bet.
It so happens that Groupon has a deal today, a Costco membership for only $40. That's $20 off the regular price. While you can sweet talk your way through airport security with, let's call them "alternative ID cards," here's an easier and faster way.
If you've lost your driver's license, you can apply for a replacement online and they'll email a temporary license immediately. The online form asks for: your driver's license number and last four digits of your Social Security number. There's a chance you have those numbers in your head. But here's the sticky part. The form also wants the 20-digit "audit number" on your driver's license. So it's a good idea to take a photo of both sides of your driver's license, print them out, and stick copies in your travel bags.
Then, talk nice to the TSA agents.
Pet of the Week
Name: Koda, which was the name of the dog in the films Snow Dog and Eight Below. As with all the pooches I feature, feel free to change its name. In fact, in this case, I insist.
Birthdate: February 28, 2020. Yup, this pup's a puppy.
Ethnicity: Koda is a Shepherd and ain't nothing but a hound dog mix. He's a energetic boy for sure. His former owners brought him to the shelter because they were moving and couldn't take him along. Koda is learning all sorts of things, like fetch and sit and not poop in the house.
He is extremely smart and eager to please his new family. Of course, he is neutered and checked out by a vet.
Come and get me: If you want this handsome, feisty fellow, drop an email to adoptions@cap4Pets.org. Remember, all pets are half-price this summer thanks to the animal lovers at West Houston Subaru.