Delta Isn't Sure Whether Or Not You Can Fly Without ID

A Delta customer service representative assured Grace that her sister would be able to fly, even though she had just lost her wallet containing her identifications. Of course, when Grace’s sister arrived the next morning at the airport, Delta’s counter agents refused to let her anywhere near the gate until she produced a photo ID. After two hours on the phone, Grace’s parents tracked down an old learner’s permit and drove 20 miles to fax a copy to the airport. Now Grace wants to know why Delta’s customer service agents weren’t familiar with Delta’s policies, and what, if anything Delta can do to compensate her for the wasted time.

Grace writes:

My weekend got stressful when my sister, who was visiting for her spring break, realized that she had lost her wallet, including all her ID cards. She’d moved around a lot, so we hoped it would turn up, but I immediately called Delta Airlines to see what we could do if she didn’t have a photo ID for her flight the next morning.

I went through their normal customer service lines, entered her confirmation number, and was put on hold for several minutes before getting through to a CSR. I explained that my sister had lost her wallet and photo ID, and we wanted to know what we could do to make sure she could still fly. I expected this would be a somewhat unusual request, but the CSR didn’t pause – he told me she would be able to fly with no problems as long as she had something like a credit card or bank statement in her name, and it would help if someone else was at the airport to vouch for her.

You can see where this story goes.

We got to the airport as early as we could using public transportation. The Delta counters weren’t very busy, and we approached a Delta representative, bank statement in hand, to explain the unusual situation. Her response: you cannot fly without a photo ID. She was not phased when I explained that the Delta CSR had explicitly told me that my sister would be fine, and when I started to ask to speak to someone else she cut me off, saying that she was the supervisor.

From there the people I worked with at the Delta counters were fairly accommodating. I asked about the possibility of using a faxed copy of an old ID, and they set me up with a fax number, but that just meant that my sister and I spent a frantic two hours waking people up in her dorm and at home to search for an old school ID, learner’s permit, anything. Luckily, my parents found an old ID, drove 20 miles at 7:00 AM to the nearest 24-hour fax, and my sister made her flight.

I recognize that my sister was at fault for losing her ID in the first place, and that everything worked out in the end. But I cannot come to terms with the fact that a Delta CSR gave me the wrong information, and that the Delta workers were neither surprised nor apologetic. If the CSR hadn’t known the policy for traveling without an ID, he should have checked with a supervisor. If the policy was at all unclear, he should never have confidently told me that my sister would be fine with just a bank statement. What did he expect would happen when we showed up to the airport?

I’m contacting Delta to seek compensation for the money spent on copies, faxes, and airport wireless in our frantic attempt to sort things out. (I’m not optimistic.) I wish my family could be compensated for the stress of dealing with the situation at the last-minute.

Most importantly, I want to be sure that Delta clarifies their policies among their workers. I usually assume that when a CSR explicitly tells you something, it will be true. If that’s not the case, customers have no chance of knowing what’s going on.

Thanks for listening, and for providing such a useful forum for consumer complaints!

The TSA requires all travelers to produce a valid ID, unless you don’t have one, in which case you can “provide information to the Transportation Security Officer performing Travel Document Checking duties in order to verify their identity.”

RELATED: ID Requirements for Airport Checkpoints [TSA]
(Photo: zieak)