With around 10 percent of the 2,500 individuals being American citizens who are currently on the "no fly" list
, which prevents them from getting on board aircraft due to the threat level they pose, it may be safe to say that there are still some issues with safety and our own countrymen.
But another much larger grouping of individual's called designated "selectees" may be causing some issues for travelers due to mistaken identity and similar names.
There are reportedly just under 16,000 individuals on the selectee list and the majority of those are NOT
American citizens. However, they are still allowed to travel provided they go through extra, more aggressive, security screenings. According to a report on CNN
, the FBI reported that it had about 400,000 people in its Terrorist Screening Database, 5 percent of which were American citizens, a much greater number than released by Homeland Security's secretary, Michael Chertoff.
The problem is that the names of those on the "no fly" and "selectee" lists confuse security and cause innocent travelers to endure massive delays and other issues at airports because their names may sound similar. An issue that the government recognizes and is addressing, according a new program released on Wednesday.
Under the program, Secure Flight, travelers will be asked to provide their full name, date of birth and gender when making airline reservations. The encrypted information will then be transmitted to the Transportation Security Administration, which will run it against the watch lists. The Department of Homeland Security believes the few pieces of additional information will dramatically reduce the number of people falsely identified as being on a watch list.
Of course, this will not eliminate the inconvenience of all false identities but the hopes is that it will stave off a majority of those who are denied boarding or put through rigorous security searches simply because of the way airline manifests are cross-referenced with the "lists".
According to Wiki, some of the confusion experienced by travelers since the growing list was implemented have been infants and toddlers generating "false positives", soldier's returning from refused boarding and even an American pilot was harassed when he tried to pilot his own plane.
The new plan is hopefully going to provide some much needed cross-referencing as far as name checks, although the added information required by travelers may be a nuisance. Even Nelson Mandela showed up on the "list" and wasn't removed until the summer of this year.
Canada also has a "no fly" list, containing up to some 2,000 names of individuals who pose a terroristic threat.
So if your name is Ted Stevens, Cat Stevens, Don Young or David Nelson, this new plan may be the reprieve you were looking for as far as traveling to see Aunt Bea in New Jersey.