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What is a redress number for air travel?

Airport terminal sunrise
Safwan Mahmud via Unsplash

Your bags are packed, you left early for the airport, and you can’t wait to get where you’re going. It’s a sunny day, and the views from your window seat should be ideal, letting you take in the views as you jet across the country. But then, when you’re almost through security, you’re stopped for additional screening. What was a morning of excitement is now an inconvenient situation.

On each flight within, to, and from the U.S., the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Secure Flight program screens your info for your safety and those around you. Unfortunately, from time to time, the system incorrectly identifies passengers as high-risk, requiring additional security screening, or even denying travel. If that’s happened to you, applying for a redress control number (also called a redress number) ensures it doesn’t in the future.

So, what is a redress number? How can you apply for one? Read on to find out.

What is a redress number for air travel?

Airport traveler observing flight information
Erik Odiin via Unsplash

A redress number is a seven-digit identifier provided by the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP). It helps the TSA’s Secure Flight program match you with info from your redress case so you aren’t misidentified as being on a watch list. Then, when you pass through security, TSA knows you’re good to go.

Though a redress number can smooth out your trip, it’s different from a Known Traveler Number (KTN). A KTN signifies affiliation with Trusted Traveler programs like Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, programs also designed to streamline the security process. 

Typically, airplane passengers don’t have a redress number. Applying through the Department of Homeland Security’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) is the only way to obtain one.

Should you apply for a redress number?

Airplane passengers walking through terminal
Josh Sorenson via Unsplash

If you’ve never been stopped for extra security screening, had trouble passing through U.S. border checkpoints, or were prohibited from boarding a plane, you don’t need a redress number. But if you have, applying through TRIP could make your life a lot easier. Before you apply, here are scenarios to consider.

DHS TRIP recommends applying if you’ve experienced the following:

  • You were unable to print a boarding pass from an airline ticketing kiosk or from the Internet.
  • You were delayed or denied boarding an aircraft.
  • The airline ticket agent informed you that the Federal Government was not authorizing you to travel.
  • You are repeatedly referred for secondary screening when clearing U.S. Customs or were denied entry into the United States.
  • You were told by CBP at a U.S. port of entry that your fingerprints need to be corrected.
  • You wish to amend a traveler record because of an overstay as a result of not submitting the required I-94 when exiting the United States.
  • You believe you were incorrectly denied ESTA authorization.
  • You believe your personal information was inappropriately exposed or shared by a government agent.

Remember, TRIP doesn’t solve all travel-related hangups. Its purpose is to resolve watchlist mismatches and other security issues, and TSA still could select you for additional screening. Beyond that, TRIP can’t help with issues like customer service, discrimination, lost or damaged items, personal injury, and assistance during screening for travelers with disabilities, medical conditions, and other circumstances.

How to get a redress number

Airplane waiting at gate as the sun rises
Rocker Sta / Unsplash

If any of the above situations apply to you, a redress number could be what you need. Applying is as simple as visiting the DHS TRIP website, answering some questions, and logging in to the portal. 

If you’re a U.S. citizen, you’ll need to provide a copy of the bio page from a current U.S. passport. If you don’t have one, a valid government-supplied photo ID will suffice (shown below). Additionally, minors only need a birth certificate or valid U.S. passport. 

If you aren’t a U.S. citizen, you must also supply the bio page from a current U.S. passport, or provide duplicates of a specific federally-issued ID, found on the following list. 

The DHS website lists the following acceptable documents:

  • Passport
  • Passport card
  • Driver’s license
  • Birth certificate (only for individuals under the age of 18)
  • Military identification card
  • Government identification card (federal/state/local number)
  • Certificate of citizenship
  • Naturalization certificate
  • Immigrant/non-immigrant visa
  • Alien registration
  • Petition or claim receipt
  • I-94 admission form
  • FAST card
  • SENTRI card
  • NEXUS card
  • Border crossing card
  • SEVIS card

How to use a redress number

Once you obtain a redress number, simply enter the seven-digit code during booking. You can also attach it to your frequent flyer profile or provide it to an airport agent at check-in. Here’s how.

When booking online with an airline or travel service, there’s usually a field to enter your redress number. If you belong to a frequent flyer program, just enter the number on your online profile, and every time you book, it’ll be automatically added. If neither of those options works, most airport agents can add your redress number to your reservation. 

Security-related issues can put a dent in your travel experience. When you can’t wait to get where you’re going, extra screening (or worse) turns a fun getaway into a time-consuming plight. Obtaining a redress number ensures you’re all set so you can breeze through the terminal and be on your way. It’s an easy solution, and worth applying for if you meet the criteria. 

Mark Reif
Mark Reif is a writer from Stowe, Vermont. During the winter, he works as a snowboard coach and rides more than 100 days. The…
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