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Adventure in Travel – Abundance of patience essential with lost ID and TSA

December 4, 2013

Recently, during a trip to Palm Springs, I lost my identification – my passport and my driver’s license were together in small purse. How do you get through TSA with no ID? Alaska Airlines told me to gather as much documentation as I could to show TSA. Did I have my boarding pass from the flight to Palm Springs? Yes. I had a credit card, my business card, and the rental car agreement (they don’t let your rent a car without a license, right?). I even had Facebook that for sure would back up my documents. And I had my Trusted Traveler card number (for 50.00 and a background check the federal government deems you a good security risk and the security check is less pervasive) – surely all of this evidence would be enough to establish my bona fides to the TSA!


I was wrong. I was sooooo wrong. Palm Springs is a lovely airport, small and relatively unpretentious as airports go. Except the TSA people are the same as every other airport. They treated me as if I were deceptive and disingenuous, not someone who had lost her identification and was trying to help solve this problem. My documents were worthless, they wouldn’t even look at my phone that I had open to my Facebook page (a TSA person asked if I watched crime shows where people fake Facebook), and my surefire winner Trusted Traveler card? Couldn’t find the number in their database.

They sat me in a chair and told me not to move while phone calls were made to mysterious voices who wanted to know lots of invasive data about me, including my husband’s name and date of birth. When I said we had been divorced over 20 years they seemed a bit surprised but wanted the information anyway. This whole event, including two pat downs (when I asked why, they didn’t see any reason to tell me) took over 90 minutes – and you have to be nice to these people who have no sense of humor and reek of the entitlement of the self-blessed. Another opportunity for me to practice kindness…

The next morning the Starbucks manager in Palm Springs called. They had found my small purse three days earlier and no one had known what to do with it so they waited until the manager came back from his days off. The effort to get them to send it back to me is another adventure – it took over a week for it to land in my hands, sans the cash but with a 5.00 Starbucks card.

Lesson learned! When I travel internationally, I am careful to keep copies of my passport and cards in a separate place, and I am dumbfounded that I never thought of domestic travel as worthy of that care … but I do now.

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