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Old May 28, 09, 12:02 am   #1
 
Join Date: May 2009
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So I'm 17 and will be flying by myself....

Hi Everyone,
I'm 17 years old, and I will be flying domestically. I am still in high school and the only picture ID I have is my school ID. It turns out that TSA doesn't accept school IDs as acceptable form of ID, however it also turns out that those under 18 don't need a picture ID. I'm a little confused about this though. I went to several websites to look this up and found some confusing answers. In some place it says "if you are under 18, you don't need a picture ID but you need to be accompanied with someone who has a picture ID, such as a legal guardian". In another place it says "you parent has to deliver you to the gate and wait for you until your plane takes off". In another one it says "you need an ID no matter what because you might need to prove that you are under 18 and the TSO might not be convinced". By the way I look VERY young, more like 15-16. I also read somewhere that "anyone over 16 can fly unaccompanied, however if you are traveling by yourself and over age 16 you will be treated like an adult, meaning you will need to present a picture ID. Which one applies to me?!?! I am 17 and I will be flying alone. I will be visiting a friend that lives in another state and she's 17 also. I will come to airport by myself with public transportation and I will have one connection but I'm sure I can manage myself in the airport. I won't need any help. I will just need to be able to get through the security check without a picture ID other than my school ID. Any info on that?!?!
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Old May 28, 09, 12:11 am   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monie_17 View Post
Hi Everyone,
I'm 17 years old, and I will be flying domestically. I am still in high school and the only picture ID I have is my school ID. It turns out that TSA doesn't accept school IDs as acceptable form of ID, however it also turns out that those under 18 don't need a picture ID. I'm a little confused about this though. I went to several websites to look this up and found some confusing answers. In some place it says "if you are under 18, you don't need a picture ID but you need to be accompanied with someone who has a picture ID, such as a legal guardian". In another place it says "you parent has to deliver you to the gate and wait for you until your plane takes off". In another one it says "you need an ID no matter what because you might need to prove that you are under 18 and the TSO might not be convinced". By the way I look VERY young, more like 15-16. I also read somewhere that "anyone over 16 can fly unaccompanied, however if you are traveling by yourself and over age 16 you will be treated like an adult, meaning you will need to present a picture ID. Which one applies to me?!?! I am 17 and I will be flying alone. I will be visiting a friend that lives in another state and she's 17 also. I will come to airport by myself with public transportation and I will have one connection but I'm sure I can manage myself in the airport. I won't need any help. I will just need to be able to get through the security check without a picture ID other than my school ID. Any info on that?!?!
Just tell them you're under 18; I think you should be fine.

If they give you grief, just show them your school ID.

I did a lot of domestic travel on my own at 16-17 including trips with multiple connections without problem.

I wouldn't sweat it or worry about it - enjoy your trip!

SDF_Traveler

P.S. See if your parents can get you added as an "additional cardholder" on one of their accounts, so that you have a major credit card with your name on it for emergencies. Chances are you won't need it, but you never know. --- If not, see if you can get a debit card with the Visa or MasterCard logo. I believe PayPal provides student debit cards and it is funded by the money in your PayPal account. It's always a good idea to have a card of some type just in case you mis-connect / flight gets canceled and you need a hotel room for the night.
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Last edited by SDF_Traveler; May 28, 09 at 12:33 am.
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Old May 28, 09, 12:28 am   #3
 
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My kids have had no ID trouble when flying alone, but if there has been any question, their school IDs were fine when under age 18.

The only time I've been required to go to the gate with them was when they were flying as unaccompanied minors, only when they were quite young, maybe under 13. Although I did not leave the airport until the plane departed, I don't recall anyone enforcing that rule.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old May 28, 09, 12:29 am   #4
 
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The TSA asserts that you can travel without ID, if (and only if) you are "cooperative" with them.

To the next generation: sorry that we hocked your civil rights for a quick fix of feel-good "security".
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Old May 28, 09, 12:31 am   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SDF_Traveler View Post
Just tell them you're under 18; I think you should be fine.

If they give you grief, just show them your school ID.

I did a lot of domestic travel on my own at 16-17 including trips with multiple connections without problem.

I wouldn't sweat it or worry about it - enjoy your trip!

SDF_Traveler

P.S. See if your parents can get you added as an "additional cardholder" on one of their accounts, so that you have a major credit card with your name on it for emergencies. Chances are you won't need it, but you never know. --- If not, see if you can get a debit card with the Visa or MasterCard logo. I believe PayPal provides student debit cards and it is funded by the money in your PayPal account. It's always a good idea to have a card if some type just in case you mis-connect / flight gets canceled and you need a hotel room for the night.
Thanks for your response. It seems like there is some paperwork, and I need to be dropped off by my parents and be picked up by someone who is an adult in my destination if I let my airline know that I'm an unaccompanied minor. Can I get away with buying the ticket like an adult by not letting the airline know that I'm an unaccompanied minor, and tell TSO that I'm a minor (which I am) so that I can avoid all that paperwork and the hassle of being picked up by an adult in the destination.
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Old May 28, 09, 12:32 am   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Self_Loading_Ballast View Post
The TSA asserts that you can travel without ID, if (and only if) you are "cooperative" with them.

To the next generation: sorry that we hocked your civil rights for a quick fix of feel-good "security".
I think that only applies to adults (+18).
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Old May 28, 09, 12:38 am   #7
 
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Originally Posted by monie_17 View Post
Thanks for your response. It seems like there is some paperwork, and I need to be dropped off by my parents and be picked up by someone who is an adult in my destination if I let my airline know that I'm an unaccompanied minor. Can I get away with buying the ticket like an adult by not letting the airline know that I'm an unaccompanied minor, and tell TSO that I'm a minor (which I am) so that I can avoid all that paperwork and the hassle of being picked up by an adult in the destination.
I don't believe there is any paperwork for an unaccompanied minor who does not need assistance.

You should be able to show up at the airport yourself, check-in, clear security, and board your flight.

I did this many times when I was 16 and 17 and never had any problem with the airlines. Show up, check-in, and be on your way.
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Old May 28, 09, 12:55 am   #8
 
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Originally Posted by SDF_Traveler View Post
I did this many times when I was 16 and 17 and never had any problem with the airlines. Show up, check-in, and be on your way.
How long ago was your experience? If post-9/11™ was it all with the U.S.?
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Old May 28, 09, 1:07 am   #9
 
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Originally Posted by YCTTSFM View Post
How long ago was your experience? If post-9/11™ was it all with the U.S.?
Pre-9/11 and within the US only.

I doubt airline policy has changed for 17 year olds traveling within the domestic US.

Parents would drop me off, I would check-in, fly to my destination (with a connection or two), and upon arrival I'd typically meet family/friends at the curb just outside of baggage claim.

The only post 9/11 difference would be the TSA, but a 17 year old does not require ID.

At 17, you're more or less an adult and that is how I was treated when I traveled at that age.
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Old May 28, 09, 1:26 am   #10
 
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Since you're not 18, no ID is required, and at 17 you don't need unaccompanied minor service. Just show up, check in, print your boarding pass, go to security, tell them you're under 18, go through security, find your gate, get on board, and have a great trip!
When I flew under 18 I always had my ID, but everyone (from airlines to security) treated me just fine.
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Old May 28, 09, 2:02 am   #11
 
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Originally Posted by SDF_Traveler View Post
I doubt airline policy has changed for 17 year olds traveling within the domestic US.
Airline policy has changed for everyone.

There was no name verification. Remember the Dan Cooper incident? Despite how frequent hijackings were at the time, the government did not impose ID checks. It took the airlines another 15 years to realize ID checks are a revenue enhancer.

Until the late '80s major newspapers had classified ad sections for people to sell/buy tickets they could not use—if asked, you simply affirmed you were the person named on the ticket.

Paying cash was routine. (Recently I tried to upgrade with cash, had to use a cc because the ticket counter no longer has cash-handling ability!)

Awareness of potential abuse to minors is greater. Last month I saw FAs reseat a 15-y-o female away from a window seat next to a male pax making mildly salacious comments—a very different experience to my 16-y-o cotraveler being groped throughout a 12-hr translatlantic flight (about 1975) yet the FAs only suggested she "ask him to stop," would not even speak to the offending pax let alone reseat either of them!

My point is that not only air travel, but law/attitudes towards minors have drastically changed over the years, and recently at a faster pace. Assuming the OP's experiences will resemble yours of past decades may be reassuring, but misleading.
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Old May 28, 09, 2:03 am   #12
 
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What's the big deal? Just get an ID made. They should have simple ID cards, basically like a driver's license but without allowing you to drive. While you are at it, why not get a passport? I am not sure whether the new passports already contain the chip and biometric data. If not, then I'd get one before they make this a requirement. When they make it a requirement, the old ones will probably still be valid for some time. The new ones will be more expensive and more intrusive from a civil rights perspective. So it would be good to get a passport asap IF they have not yet instituted the above changes.

Till
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Old May 28, 09, 2:23 am   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monie_17 View Post
Hi Everyone,
I'm 17 years old, and I will be flying domestically. I am still in high school and the only picture ID I have is my school ID. It turns out that TSA doesn't accept school IDs as acceptable form of ID, however it also turns out that those under 18 don't need a picture ID. I'm a little confused about this though. I went to several websites to look this up and found some confusing answers. In some place it says "if you are under 18, you don't need a picture ID but you need to be accompanied with someone who has a picture ID, such as a legal guardian". In another place it says "you parent has to deliver you to the gate and wait for you until your plane takes off". In another one it says "you need an ID no matter what because you might need to prove that you are under 18 and the TSO might not be convinced". By the way I look VERY young, more like 15-16. I also read somewhere that "anyone over 16 can fly unaccompanied, however if you are traveling by yourself and over age 16 you will be treated like an adult, meaning you will need to present a picture ID. Which one applies to me?!?! I am 17 and I will be flying alone. I will be visiting a friend that lives in another state and she's 17 also. I will come to airport by myself with public transportation and I will have one connection but I'm sure I can manage myself in the airport. I won't need any help. I will just need to be able to get through the security check without a picture ID other than my school ID. Any info on that?!?!
You shouldn't need ID. Just tell the TDC that you're under 18. Check with your airline for their specific rules re: flying as a minor. I doubt they will require anything special at your age, and may not even offer the option if you want it.

As a hedge against problem/stupidity, I recommend the following:
1. Bring your school ID, if your are able to do so. It should be sufficient to back up your claim that your are under 18.
2. If possible, make sure a parent or adult guardian is available via phone to confirm that you have permission to travel.
3. Don't hesitate to ask for help, if you require it.
4. Don't hesitate to demand equal and respectful treatment from adults.
5. The credit/debit card is a good idea.
6. If you're going to be traveling alone frequently, check into taking a good self defense class, if you have not already done so.

Have a good trip, and stay safe.
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Old May 28, 09, 3:18 am   #14
 
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Originally Posted by YCTTSFM View Post
My point is that not only air travel, but law/attitudes towards minors have drastically changed over the years, and recently at a faster pace. Assuming the OP's experiences will resemble yours of past decades may be reassuring, but misleading.
While my solo travel as a 16-17 y.o. was pre-9/11, we're still talking about the 1990's here. When DB Cooper made his 1971 jump out of a 727, I was waiting in another queue, not quite in the jet age yet

Things have changed with the TSA's "Security Theatre" and on-board service is now almost non-existent, but when it comes to checking-in, going through security, and boarding a plane it's the same drill (aside from the TSA being in place).

As JBLUA320 said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by JBLUA320
Just show up, check in, print your boarding pass, go to security, tell them you're under 18, go through security, find your gate, get on board, and have a great trip!
That pretty much sums up my experience when I was 17 and doesn't appear to be misleading.
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Old May 28, 09, 4:35 am   #15
 
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Originally Posted by SDF_Traveler View Post
P.S. See if your parents can get you added as an "additional cardholder" on one of their accounts, so that you have a major credit card with your name on it for emergencies. Chances are you won't need it, but you never know. --- If not, see if you can get a debit card with the Visa or MasterCard logo. I believe PayPal provides student debit cards and it is funded by the money in your PayPal account. It's always a good idea to have a card of some type just in case you mis-connect / flight gets canceled and you need a hotel room for the night.
Just a note on this...Hotels may not rent a room to a minor. I'm not sure if it is universal but I seem to recall seeing some places say you need to be a certain age to check in.
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