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What to do if you are on the TSA watch list

Set up after 9/11 as a consolidated database of suspected terrorists, the TSA watch list or “no fly list” has grown to more than 755,000 names. Each name does not necessarily indicate one person. So, if you share your name with a suspected terrorist or convicted criminal the government fears will try to flee the country, you could experience extra hassles at the airport.

If someone with a name matching one on the watch list checks in at the airport, he will not be able to check in at a kiosk and must be cleared by an airline supervisor. If he is not cleared, he will be questioned and possibly denied boarding.

Before you assume you are on the list, make sure you didn’t go through additional screening because you were randomly selected. Often, people who purchase one-way tickets or buy their ticket the day of the flight are chosen. Check your boarding pass, and if it says “SSSS,” you were randomly selected for additional screening.

If you believe you have been wrongly placed on the list, you can file a complaint with the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP). Although the process may seem complicated, the online system is the best solution, since many who try to call often find themselves caught in a web of bureaucratic red tape.

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