Why you should get a Real ID drivers license
Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, the Real ID Law will be enforced across the country. This means that in order to board a domestic commercial airline flight, all citizens will need Real IDcompliant licenses, identification cards or other forms of federally acceptable identification. By other forms of federally accepted identification I am mainly referring to a United States passport.
Much like a license, travelers will need to show airline personnel and Transportation Se- curity Administration screeners their U.S. passports each time they check in for flights.
The bottom line is that travelers who do not have a Real ID-compliant license or a United States passport will not be able to board their flight.
Obviously, this is important to individuals, but it also is important to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport. We at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport are proud to be Northeastern Pennsylvania’s gateway to the world. For passengers who come to the airport on or after Oct. 1, 2020 without Real ID-compliant identification, that will mean the disappointment of not being able to board their flights. This also will delay the rest of the traveling public.
I urge travelers to visit any PennDOT REAL ID center or PennDOT’s website at www.dmv.pa.gov/REALID to learn how to obtain a Real ID compliant license. PennDOT can also be reached at 717-412-5300. State legislators can be helpful with this process, too.
Pennsylvania’s airports are working to spread the word about Real ID and to make compliance as convenient as possible. While a coordinated effort is underway to reach out to the traveling public and other stakeholders, more needs to be accomplished by way of information and actual registration.
The impetus for Real ID was the events of 9/11. Afterwards, the federal government began to explore ways to increase security surrounding state drivers licenses. In an attempt to prevent further terrorism, the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005 passed a bill that was signed into law called the Real ID Act.
However, in 2011 the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 38, the Real ID Non-Participation Act, which prevented PennDOT from working in full compliance with the Real ID Act. Pennsylvania was one of only a handful of states that chose not to comply with the Real ID Act — at that time.
In 2017, the Aviation Council of Pennsylvania and other organizations worked with the state legislature to repeal Act 38 and to develop legislation to move forward with compliance allowing travelers to fly domestically through Real ID participation. That was finally accomplished
Today, the responsibility for Real ID compliance falls to PennDOT. This is due to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security requiring drivers licenses, issued by all 50 states, to reflect Real ID participation.
The following are some air travel facts/observations regarding Real ID:
■ Over 21 million airline passengers flew from Pennsylvania airports in 2018.
■ American Airlines estimates that over 87% of its passengers fly only once a year for life events such as weddings, funerals, graduations, etc.
■ PennDOT estimates it will issue 10.6 million drivers licenses/ID cards over the next 12 months and estimates 25% of those will be Real ID (approximately 2.7 million). This number is troubling, as we believe such a compliance rate is too low. Many who normally travel by air will not have the necessary identification to do so at such a rate.
■ Real ID requires a one-time fee of $30, plus a renewal fee (current renewal fee is $30.50 for a four–year noncommercial drivers license or a photo ID).
This is a critical change to air travel. Air travelers need to be ready for it or risk being turned down at the gate.
Commercial airports across Pennsylvania are ready, willing and able to help. Reach out to us with questions about Real ID or assistance with the registration process.
Let’s keep flying together.
Travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. Passengers will need a Read ID-compliant license or passport to board any flight beginning Oct. 1, 2020.