ARLINGTON, Va. -- Airline passengers starting next year will be barred from boarding planes if they refuse to provide their full name and birth date, the government said Wednesday.
"You have to give this information," Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley said.
The rule will "dramatically reduce" the number of people hassled at airports because their name resembles a terrorist's on a government watch list, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and some children have been mistaken for terrorists.
Comparing a passenger's first, middle and last name and birth date to the watch list will eliminate "most" false matches by more precisely identifying a passenger, Chertoff said. Travelers now must give airlines only a last name and first initial.
Airlines must collect the new information starting in July for flights originating or ending in the USA. The requirement also applies to any flight traveling over the country, such as from Canada to Mexico. Some airlines may start in January, Hawley said.
In a shift, airlines will give passenger information to the TSA to compare to the watch list. The comparisons have been done for years by airlines, but that has led to "inconsistencies" because some are better than others at updating their lists as the FBI adds and drops names, Chertoff said. Having the government compare passenger names to the watch list will improve security, Chertoff said.
Travelers who book flights and don't give required information won't be able to print a boarding pass at home or at an airport kiosk, Hawley said. They will have to go to an airline counter and show an ID card with the required information.
For passengers making last-minute reservations, the TSA will check their backgrounds in seconds and report results to airlines, Hawley said.
Many airlines had opposed collecting new passenger information when the TSA first proposed it a year ago, saying that would complicate making reservations. Steve Lott of the International Air Transport Association said Wednesday it could be "costly and complex" for airlines to revise their computer systems to collect the new passenger information.
Paul Ruden of the American Society of Travel Agents said the new system "will be a big improvement" by reducing the number of false matches.
Security expert Bruce Schneier said it won't improve security because terrorists could buy a ticket using someone else's name.