TSA's 'Secure Flight 'program is now mandatory

With the spate of chilling new terrorist attempts over the weekend, it’s semi-comforting that new TSA rules went into effect this week aimed at tightening airline security.

The Transportation Security Administration’s mandatory new rules for flight reservations require a passenger’s full name, gender and date of birth exactly as they appear on a non-expired government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license).

The additional data is now required for airline reservations on all domestic and international travel on U.S. airlines as well as foreign carriers who fly into and out of the U.S.

Called the Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) program, it compares airline passenger information against U.S. government watch lists. The required information also helps to prevent misidentifications for those who are not on a watch list.

If accurate Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) is not provided at the time of booking, the reservation may be canceled and the passenger will be denied boarding, according to the TSA.

If you’re making reservations for others, be sure to have their accurate SFPD because changing or updating information is not possible with all airlines.

But note that while the name provided to TSA must exactly match the government-issued ID, it does not have to exactly match the name on a frequent flyer account. However, travel agents say it’s a good idea to convert all your accounts to match the name on your ID to avoid any check-in problems.

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Susan R. Pollack
Globetrotting journalist and former Detroit News staff writer Susan R. Pollack has covered travel since 1985, visiting scores of countries on five continents, 49 states, six Canadian provinces and hundreds of cities, islands and outposts along the way. From Alaska, the Galapagos and New Zealand to South Africa, Thailand and Wales, she has suffered the occasional lost luggage, jetlag and Montezuma’s revenge but still delights in sharing travel adventures with readers. In addition to The Detroit News, her award-winning stories and photos have appeared in major newspapers including the Dallas News, Toronto Star, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Chicago Sun Times; and magazines including Delta Sky, Midwest Living, Long Weekends, Experience Michigan, Jetsetter, Home & Away, Hour Detroit, Prevue Meetings and Group Tour. She has contributed to several books including "Rand McNally 2008 Ultimate NASCAR Road Trip Guide," and is the copy editor for She also has written for websites including and