HOUSTON — Edward Allen’s reaction to being on the government’s “no-fly” list should have been the tip-off that he is no terrorist.
“I don’t want to be on the list. I want to fly and see my grandma,” the 4-year-old boy said, according to his mother.
Sijollie Allen and her son had trouble boarding planes last month because someone with the same name as Edward is on a government terrorist watch list.
“Is this a joke?” Allen recalled telling Continental Airlines agents Dec. 21 at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport. “You can tell he’s not a terrorist.”
She said it took several minutes of pleading and a phone call by the ticket agent to get on the plane to New York.
Allen, a Jamaican immigrant, said workers at La Guardia Airport were even more hard-nosed before their Dec. 26 flight home. She said a ticket agent told her: “You’re lucky that we’re letting you through instead of putting you through the other process.”
The Transportation Security Administration’s “no-fly” list was established immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to prevent people who may have terrorist ties from boarding commercial flights.
‘Common sense should play a role’
“I know the government is trying to protect because of the terrorist attacks, but common sense should play a role in it,” Allen said. “I don’t think he should go through the trouble of being harassed and hindered.”
TSA regional spokeswoman Carrie Harmon said the agency tells airlines not to deny boarding to children under 12 or select them for extra security checks even if their names match ones on the list.
“We do not require ID for children because there are no children on the list,” Harmon said. “If it’s a child, ticket agents have the authority to immediately de-select them.”
Continental spokesman Dave Messing said Thursday that the airline would not discuss its security policies.
Other people with common names who have encountered “no-fly” list problems at airports include Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and actor David Nelson from “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., has said he had to make several calls to federal officials before his name was separated from the one on the list.
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