Mistakes on “No Fly List” Keeping Travelers Grounded

There are about one million names on the combined government watch list for airline travelers, according to the Public Education Center, a Washington DC-based non-profit group that tracks airline security. However, the problem is that even the government admits that most of those people shouldn't be on the list.

Unfortunately for investigative reporter Ana Garcia, she is one in a million, and has been on this list for several years, and can't get removed. Whether it's at the curb, online or at the kiosk, problems checking-in persist for Garcia and many other Americans who have been erroneously placed on the watch list.

"A list full of mistakes," Joe Trento of the Public Education Center said of the government watch list.

"There are two lists, there's the do not fly list and a selectee list," said Suzanne Trevino of the Transportation Security Administration.

The selectee list means that you require additional screening but may be still permitted to fly. Trevino believes the selectee list is the one that it appears Garcia is on.

But Trento says there's yet another list -- an internal list of potential trouble-making passengers.

"That is a list that nobody likes to talk about," Trento said.


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The TSA confirms that airlines keep blacklists of problem passengers. In 2004, Garcia investigated how some airport employees at LAX, including TSA agents, were abusing parking spaces with phony handicapped placards, making it possible that Garcia could perhaps be on an internal list rather than the selectee list.

However, Trevino denies this as a possibility, citing that TSA does not "add reporters onto the list or people that maybe blog about the TSA in a negative way."

Furthermore, the TSA says, it doesn't have a blacklist. The government says that it's more likely Garcia's name matches someone else the authorities are looking for. But the problem with that is Ana Garcia's name is so common, it's the Latino version of John Smith, making this a problem for Ana Garcias across the country.

Ana Garcia of Simi Valley says that last summer she and her family missed their United Airlines flight because she couldn't print out her boarding pass.

Ana Garcia of Carson also had problems checking in on a recent flight to Las Vegas. Garcia of Carson is a nurse and says she's "a good citizen," however when she flies she "feels treated like a criminal."

The TSA has a procedure for people on the watch list to clear their names called the redress program.

"You fill out paperwork -- mail the TSA copies of your passport, drivers license, birth certificate and once you are cleared, you should be able to fly without problems," Trevino assured.

Only Garcia filled out her paperwork almost two years ago; yet, she's still having problems.

Now the TSA is about to launch Secure Flight.

"Through Secure Flight, the airlines will be asking for your full name, date of birth and gender before your flight so the TSA can pre-screen you. Target success rate for this new government program, over 99 percent," Trevino said.

Can you recall the last time the government achieved 99 percent accuracy in anything?

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