Real ID – it’s for real; sign up!

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 ID-compliant licenses, identification cards or other forms of federally acceptable identification. By other forms of federally- accepted identification, I am mainly referring to a U.S. Passport. Much like a license, travelers will need to show airline personnel and TSA 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 U.S. Passport will not be able to board their flight. Conversely, any passenger who arrives at an airport with a current U.S. Passport or with a Real-ID compliant license will have the right to board their flight.

Obviously, this is important to individuals, but it also is important to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

We at AVP are proud to be Northeastern Pennsylvania’s gateway to the world. For passengers who come to AVP on or after October 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 travelling public.

Don’t delay.

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, including AVP, are working to spread the word out 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 then signed into law called the Real ID Act.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 38, the Real ID Non-Participation Act of 2011, 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 enabling legislation to move forward with compliance allowing travelers the ability to fly domestically through Real ID participation. – which 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:

• There are over 20 million airline passengers who fly from Pennsylvania airports each year.

• It is estimated by American Airlines that over 87 percent of its passengers only fly 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 percent of those will be Real ID (approximately 2.7 million). This number is troubling as we believe such compliance rate is too low. Many who normally travel by air will not have the necessary identification to do so at such a rate.

• Travelers will pay a one-time fee of $30, plus a renewal fee (current renewal fee is $30.50 for a four-year non-commercial driver’s license or a photo ID). When one considers our carriers are responsible for the increase of new passenger routes in Pennsylvania, an impact of $60 for a few passengers can be detrimental to these budget conscience flyers.

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!

Carl R. Beardsley, Jr. is executive director of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.


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