Did you know that minors are not required to show any form of identification to fly domestically in the United States?

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When I was not much younger than my own son is now, maybe six or seven, my parents put me on an airplane to fly across the country from Washington to New York to spend the summer with my grandparents.

I remember when I flew alone for the first time, I had to wear a lanyard with my name and emergency contact information on it, and I had an airport companion who met me at each gate and made sure that I got on and off each flight with no trouble.

That was in the 1980s. Today, children can and do fly without identification and I have mixed feelings about it. I don’t know about the companion side of small children flying, whether or not that’s still something that’s done, but I seem to remember reading something several years ago about how children should not fly with identification pinned to them because bad people were able to obtain that information to trick children into going with them.

Just last week, my child flew and was not required to have any form of identification nor was he asked any questions such as his name or his birthday or to point out who his parents are. I wasn’t so surprised about this when it came to flying out of Binghamton because this is a small town and my family is relatively well-known. The people at the ticket counter of the airline we flew out of knew me and my son and had a nice conversation with us, but in Orlando, nobody knew who we were and nobody checked to verify that my son was actually mine.

I miss the days of things being more simple, but these are not those days, and as a mom who has spent 25 years reporting on the awful ways that horrible people turn children into victims, it is alarming to me that I was able to slide through TSA without having to verify that the small child traveling with me actually belonged to me.

I know firsthand from the stories I’ve shared throughout my career that children are easy to manipulate and when they think that someone is going to hurt them or their family, they will lie to prevent the perpetrator from doing any harm. How easy it is to threaten a child that something bad will happen if they don’t go along with a plan.

For my son to fly, all I had to do was purchase a ticket. That was it. I took a copy of my son’s birth certificate and passport card as proof that he belonged to me. My husband and I reiterated phone numbers and addresses in the event my son was asked to verify any of that information but he wasn’t.

According to the TSA, minors under the age of 18 are not required to show identification to fly domestically as long as they are accompanied by an adult. But what if that adult isn't someone who has the best interest of the child at heart?

I’m curious about what you think of this. Am I an overly concerned mother or are my concerns validated? Should there be some sort of identification requirements or questions that should be required or asked of minor children (who are of speaking age, obviously) or is there really no need?

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