What To Do If You Lose Your Photo ID and Need to Get On a Plane

(credit: ECP via Flickr)

(credit: ECP via Flickr)

I went to Washington D.C. a weekend not too long ago for a mystery readers’ conference where I was on an author’s panel for the first time. I also presented a two-minute spiel at a new author’s breakfast, relished in the glee of being amongst fans… and lost my driver’s license.

Oops. That was not a good thing — losing the driver’s license, I mean.

It was one of those mornings. I rushed out of the house at 5:00 A.M. for an early flight, traversed a convoluted detour route into the airport because of construction, wasted time finding a place to park, and then went to the wrong airline terminal to check in. After discovering my mistake, I had to walk a mile from terminal one to terminal three in the wrong shoes, dragging luggage that had books in it behind me. Not fun.

Thank goodness I had left the house a few minutes early. By the time I got checked in, through security, and to the gate, the plane was boarding so I showed my e-ticket and walked right on — without my driver’s license. I discovered it missing when I checked into the hotel.

I called the airline as soon as I got to the room. That worked out well in our service-oriented economy!

Although I repeatedly said “emergency” over and over in a tearful voice, I could not get a human on the phone to help me. When I hung up after twenty minutes on hold, distraught, I did the next best thing — actually it should have been the first best thing — I checked Google. Sure enough an answer to my dilemma was there. Reassured that I would most likely be able to fly home despite my lost license, I went on with my conference.

Here’s what I did to get on the plane flying back to my home after losing my government issued picture ID:

 I got to the airport early.

Getting to the airport early was a key to getting on the plane.

Check-in was interesting but since I was prepared, I felt confident. While the lady behind the counter acted as if I was the first person to have ever had this problem, she was helpful, took my warehouse-store membership card and insurance cards to her supervisor, and together, they agreed to check my bag, then sent me on to security.

I showed the ticket agent all the cards I had with me.

Be ready to show all your cards including credit cards, insurance cards, library cards, warehouse store cards, etc to the ticket agent.  If you have one with a picture on it, you should be good to go.

Because this was a return flight, I had checked in with my picture ID coming into D.C., the process was fairly easy.

At security, I went in a special — and very short — line and was escorted by a pleasant young man to a private area where I went through an in-depth check. My bags were checked for explosives — and fortunately, they came up negative. I was patted down by a female employee.

It all worked out fine. Everyone was kind. The young lady who checked my baggage was in training, so my mishap even served a purpose.

The extensive check was rather silly, since I suspect if I was on a dangerous mission, I probably would not have drawn so much attention to myself. But I also realize TSA had to do something about my misdeed. It all turned out OK. I was willing to do what I had to do to get on the plane home. Everyone was kind and I didn’t feel at all invaded.

Probably the one thing that wasn’t OK was not being able to get any information from the airline on how to take care of this problem. There was no information to help me on the airline website and I wasn’t able to reach anyone on the phone. I was so stressed and frustrated when I couldn’t get an answer. Thank goodness for Google search.

Make copies of your government photo IDs and carry them with you.

One last suggestion – in the future I’m packing photo copies of my government documents – my driver’s license and passport – whenever and wherever I travel. I do not want this same thing to happen again.

It’s probably a good idea to do the same thing with credit cards and other important documents – just in case the unexpected or improbable happens.


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About Liz Stauffer

Liz Morningstar Stauffer’s improbable journey—from a divorced mother of two at the age of 34 to a millionaire some 15 years later—has inspired her to create the blog “The Improbable Millionaire," offering tips, advice, stories and support for people on a similar journey—even if they don’t know it yet!

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