Legislation Would Mitigate Headaches Around Real ID

Citing the potential for “mass confusion, chaos and delays” at U.S. airports starting Oct. 1, members of Congress last week introduced legislation to head off travel disruption caused by the Real ID deadline. 

Travel organizations, which have been sounding the alarm about a potential travel nightmare resulting from the new ID laws, applauded the bill, although with the deadline just eight months out, they wondered if it amounted to too little, too late. 

The Trusted Traveler Real ID Relief Act of 2020, introduced by Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), would allow TSA Precheck membership to serve as a temporary alternative to a Real ID at domestic airports, enable people to apply for the IDs online and create a plan for the TSA to vet people who show up without Real IDs. 

The U.S. Travel Association, Airlines for America and ASTA applauded the bill. 

“We are very concerned about the unintended impacts that this law will have on travel agency clients and the broader travel community,” said Genevieve Strand, ASTA’s director of advocacy. “The potential for disruption at security checkpoints is significant. We’ve seen estimates that as many as 500,000 passengers per week could be turned away.”

U.S. Travel data shows that 57 percent of Americans remain unaware of the Oct. 1 deadline, and an estimated 99 million Americans do not have a Real ID or alternative form of accepted identification, such as a U.S. passport, military ID or Global Entry card that will allow them to pass through airport checkpoints after Oct. 1. 

Given that the deadline is only eight months out, ASTA is hopeful the bill will mobilize TSA and other stakeholders to get out the word and focus on public education and awareness.