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"Secure Flight" Program Poses Problems for Name-Challenged

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Like many Americans, I have three names. Stuart Clark Mitchell. I like all of them, but they’ve led to confusion my entire life.

First of all, they could all be first or last names. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called “Mitchell,” especially in situations where names on a roster are listed last name first. Secondly, my parents had the bright idea of calling me by my middle name (“Clark”). As a result, on the first day of every class in college, I had to explain that I was indeed “Stuart,” but “Clark” would be my preference. Then there’s the question of spelling—some, including a certain person on staff here at T+L, insist on making my name a little fancier by writing  “Clarke,” even after years of correcting.

While all of this may seem trivial compared to keeping our country safe, the new TSA program, Secure Flight, which launches early next year, is bound to affect people like me.

Under this new program, names on boarding passes are required to match government issued I.D.s to the letter. I’ve booked many tickets under “Clark Mitchell” in the past, forgetting that—as far as the government is concerned—I’m actually “Stuart.”

The take away: make double sure when booking a flight now that your names appear exactly as they do on your passport or driver’s license—whichever you plan to show at the airport. Otherwise, you could have a lot of explaining to do.


Clark Mitchell is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.

 

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