Joan Dorsey
Contributing columnist
I have always figured I had a fairly common name. My first name however you pronounce it, is either Joan or Jo-Ann. I answer to the latter.
My married name was also very common also and not hard to pronounce.
Years ago traveling back from somewhere in Mexico, we were given the opportunity to get seats on an earlier than planned flight. We went to the airline desk and asked for info.
I mean who doesn’t want to get home earlier than expected?
I sat and waited, but was summoned to the check-in desk. I needed to present all my credentials.
I was looked over, searched, and then it was decided we weren’t allowed to get the early flight. I thought nothing about it really. Airlines have rules, and it wasn’t important. I didn’t think too much about it.
On the next trip I was asked not to sit in the exit door seat. Ok, still no biggie. I don’t want to be the one removing that door unless I am the last resort.
Flight after flight I was pulled aside and searched. Asked questions about family, trip, length of stay. Still I just figured it was airline stuff.
I was used to the other person I traveled with being pulled out of line for belt buckles, coins, keys or even residue from working in the rock quarry.
But plain Joan? Well I didn’t get it. So I asked the clerk at the counter. What was the deal?
She informed me I had been flagged as a person of interest on flights. This was after 911, and I understood the concern, but I didn’t believe I fit the description.
So, when this happens you contact Homeland Security. You explain all the times you have been pulled aside, searched questioned and detained.
I can’t remember all the questions I had to answer. Probably Mother’s maiden name, birthplace and my first pet…
Once you pass all the questions to their satisfaction, they issue you a redress number. This number is used for the rest of your traveling days I assume. Whenever you purchase a ticket you supply it. I am assuming it links you to a web site where everything is known about you. Address, voting record, where you buy your groceries, etc.
My luggage is usually searched – note included inside for you to find when you get home. My carryon bags are searched. Sometimes you get the wand run over you.
I don’t have any idea why I was flagged as a problem after 911. I am not rowdy or noisy on flights. I figure it was my name. I have no middle name. Maybe that sticks out as a red flag.
But when I travel, I take my Homeland Security letter that has my number. I take my passport. Driver’s license and all the documents I need.
I realize my wait will be a little longer maybe. No exit door seats for me.
But in the long run being safe and traveling are two things well worth the extra time.