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TRAVEL Q&A

No ID? All Is Not Lost.

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By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 29, 2008

Q. My daughter lost her driver's license while visiting San Francisco and asked us to FedEx her passport to use for identification. We did, but what does one do in situations like this when the picture ID is lost during transit and you have nothing to show the Transportation Security Administration people except your boarding pass?

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Vijay Alsi, Vienna

A. Travelers who don't have handy parents standing by to FedEx their travel documents, and even those who do, can rest easy: You can board your flight without ID, as long as TSA officials can verify your identity. "Establishing identification," says TSA spokesman Christopher White, "is as important as having a passenger go through a metal detector."

Formerly, travelers without ID had to undergo regular screening, a whole-body pat-down and a full luggage check before they were allowed to board their flights. But on June 21, the TSA's policy changed, White said, to focus on identity verification. The new policy "increases safety for the traveling public," White said. "If you're a bad guy, the last thing you want is to have your name called into a government operations center, be interviewed by the police and have a behavior-detection officer come chat with you." He said it takes an average of six minutes to verify identity.

Here's how the new system works: If you lose your ID, you should arrive at the security checkpoint early, explain the situation to the officer at the document-checking station. You'll be asked to fill out a form including your full name and address, which officials will check against publicly available databases. If necessary, local police and TSA behavior-detection officers will interview you, and you might have to undergo additional screening.

Can you help me locate an inexpensive mode of transportation for one person from the Buffalo, N.Y., airport to downtown Toronto in July?

Allan Cordero, Washington

Your cheapest bet is a bus. Specifically, Megabus (877-462-6342, http://www.megabus.com). The latest player in the cheapo-intercity-bus wars travels to Toronto from the Buffalo airport -- about a three-hour trip -- three times a day for $30 round trip on your travel dates. (Fares can be as low as $1 each way, but you must reserve far in advance to snag those.)

Greyhound (800-231-2222, http://www.greyhound.com) also has service, but tickets are about $60 round trip, and you'll need to take a cab from the airport to the bus station. Amtrak (800-872-7245, http://www.amtrak.com) travels this route, too, for about $90 round trip.

Your Turn

Joyce C. Grand of Falls Church, who recently spent five weeks in New Zealand, has some tips for the couple from Chevy Chase who asked about Kiwi lodging options (June 22). She highly recommends Lakeside Serviced Apartments in Wanaka (011-64-3-443-0188, http://www.lakesidewanaka.co.nz); Awapiriti Farmstay in Murchison (011-64-3-523-9466, http://www.aatravel.co.nz/main/listing.php?listingId=40497); and Homestay at Evans Bay in Wellington (011-64-4-386-1504, http://www.homestayevansbay.co.nz). "Awapiriti Farmstay is located on several hundred acres that include mountains, streams and a national park," Grand wrote in an e-mail. "Expect informative, fun hikes in the morning and excellent cuisine and conversation at dinner."

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.


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