Explainer: About the Secure Flight program

  • Image: plane landing
    STEPHEN J. CARRERA  /  AP

    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 watch lists for domestic and international flights. TSA is fully taking over this responsibility from airlines beginning Nov. 1. Secure Flight will conduct passenger watch list matching for all domestic and international passengers traveling on covered flights into, out of, within, or over the United States. Secure Flight will also apply to point-to-point international flights operated by U.S.- based airlines.

    By assuming watch list matching responsibilities from the airlines, TSA:

    1. decreases the chance for compromised watch list data by limiting its distribution.

    2. provides earlier identification of potential matches, allowing for expedited notification of law enforcement and threat management.

    3. provides a fair, equitable, and consistent matching process across all airlines.

    4. reduces instances of misidentified individuals.

    5. offers consistent application of an integrated redress process for misidentified individuals through the Department of Homeland Security's Travel Redress Inquiry Program ( DHS TRIP).

  • How does Secure Flight work?

    When passengers travel, they will be required to provide the following Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) to their airline when making a reservation:

    • Name as it appears on government-issued I.D. when traveling
    • Date of birth
    • Gender
    • Redress number (if available)

    TSA matches this information against government watch lists 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.
  • What if the name on my boarding pass is different than what appears on my I.D.?

    Due to differences in boarding pass systems, 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 watch list matching before a boarding pass is ever issued, so small differences should not impact your travel. You should ensure that the name provided when booking your travel matches the government ID that you will use when traveling. Small differences between the passenger's ID the passenger's reservation information, and the boarding pass (such as the use of a middle initial instead of a full middle name or no middle name/initial at all, hyphens or apostrophes) should not cause a problem for the passenger.

  • Why is Secure Flight collecting this information?

    TSA determined that mandating the provision of the additional data elements of date of birth and gender would greatly reduce the number of passengers misidentified as a match to the watch list. It is to the passenger's advantage to provide the required data elements as doing so may prevent delays or inconveniences at the airport, particularly for those individuals who have been misidentified in the past.

  • What happens if my airline didn't ask for any of that information?

    Secure Flight will be phased-in and each airline will be incorporating the necessary changes into their systems over the coming months. Passengers shouldn't be concerned if particular airlines don't ask them to provide the additional information right away; it should not impact their travel. Each airline will request this information as their capability to capture it is integrated into their individual systems.

  • How do I know if I am on the No-Fly list?

    If a passenger successfully obtains a boarding pass, his/her name is not on the No-Fly list. If a passenger feels they have been misidentified, redress is an opportunity to seek resolution and avoid future delays. The affected passengers often have the same or a similar name to someone on the watch list. Any passenger who believes he/she has been delayed or denied boarding; delayed or denied entry into the U.S. at a port of entry; or been subject to enhanced screening or inspection may seek redress through the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) at www.dhs.gov/trip. DHS TRIP provides a single portal for travelers to seek redress for adverse screening experiences and to resolve possible watch list misidentification issues.

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