In a letter sent to TSA Administrator David Pekoske this week, Norton said she was dismayed to learn that D.C. residents are still encountering problems at airport security using their licenses to board domestic flights.
She described the latest episode as “humiliating.”
According to Norton’s letter, a D.C. resident was stopped in the TSA line at Newark Liberty International Airport at Thanksgiving.
“The TSO [transportation security officer] refused to accept her District license as a valid form of ID,” Norton said. “It is my understanding that other TSOs came over and discussed whether it was valid before letting her through, although the resident nearly missed her flight as a result.”
Since then, TSA agents charged with checking passengers’ IDs have occasionally rejected the cards featuring the new design. At times, those agents appeared unaware that “District of Columbia” was the origin of the “D.C.” abbreviation.
In her letter on Wednesday, Norton requested that TSA managers remind their staff that the licenses bearing “District of Columbia” are a valid form of identification.
“As I’m sure you can imagine,” Norton added, “it can be humiliating for a U.S. citizen to be delayed because a federal government employee does not recognize the name of the District of Columbia.”
On Thursday, a TSA spokesman said agency officials have re-upped the notifications to ensure that D.C. ID-bearers aren’t turned away in airports.
“TSA will continue to work with Congresswoman Holmes-Norton about her concerns and reminders have been distributed to officers,” the spokesman said.
But it’s not just airport security officers who have gotten confused by seeing the District’s full moniker.
Last year, several Washingtonians reported that they were not allowed to purchase beer at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, because vendors mistakenly believed the identifications hailed from a foreign country. (It’s unclear whether they were confusing “Columbia” with “Colombia,” the nation in Latin America.)
“The administration determined ‘Washington, D.C.’ better represents the city and will reduce confusion in other jurisdictions,” District Department of Motor Vehicles director Lucinda Babers said at the time.
When the about-face decision was announced, Norton expressed sympathy for the TSA agents grappling with the bait-and-switch.
“Poor things; they are going to have to be untrained now,” Norton said in April. “I have a feeling that Washington, D.C., is such a familiar name that it won’t cause the same confusion. At least, I hope not.”