Travel

TSA agent doesn't know what District of Columbia is, rejects ID

The Transportation Security Administration is supposed to keep Americans (and everybody, really) safe. Extensive background checks, full-body scans, and through itinerary scrutinization make flying that much more secure.

Problem is, when the TSA agent doesn't know geography -- namely, where his employer is headquartered -- the machine fails.

Case in point: One TSA agent at Orlando International Airport refused to accept a passenger's ID card issued by the District of Columbia... because he didn't think it was an actual place in the United States. And unfortunately for that agent, the ID in question belonged to a guy who works in media.

Justin Gray, a reporter for Cox Media Group from Washington DC, told WFTV the official rejected his completely valid, up-to-date driver's license, and instead asked for his passport, which he didn't have on him.

"At that point, I was a little confused, but then I realized what was going on", Gray said. "I said to him, 'Do you not know what the District of Columbia is? Washington, DC?' After some back and forth, it became clear he didn't." 

Gray tweeted the verbal scrum to the world, which caught the attention of the TSA's spokesman, Ross Feinstein, who responded with a statement saying, "Officers are trained to identify fraudulent documents, which can potentially deter and detect individuals attempting to circumvent this layer of security."

Surely, though, officers have also been trained in elementary school geography...

In any case, Gray eventually passed through security after speaking with the agent's supervisor.

And to be fair to the TSA agent (first time anyone has uttered that phrase), as one Gawker commenter duly notes, "what's missing in all the media coverage of this story is that this guy has the brand new DC drivers license. It looks radically different from our previous licenses. The agent probably just didn't recognize it. And then was a dick about it. Because TSA."

Perhaps the TSA should take a break from Instagramming weapons and dogs and crack open an atlas or geography book.


Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. Yes, that's a British accent. No, she doesn't watch Doctor Who. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.