Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tales of ID for domestic travel

We recently flew to Tremblant on Porter Airlines with my oldest son. At check-in they asked for photo ID for my son. Photo ID for a 5 year old...on a domestic flight? The only photo ID my son has is his passport, and last time I checked a passport was not required to travel within one's own country.  I always carry my children's OHIP card (Ontario Health Insurance Plan Card), which does not have a photo, so provided this to the check-in agent who, while deemed it acceptable, said I should travel with photo ID for my 5 year old Canadian born son. So, I have to bring his passport to fly within our own country? 

Update: I have flown on Porter many, many times with my children since this flight and have never been asked for photo ID for them on a domestic flight. Their OHIP cards have always been fine.

I was under the impression that children do not need to have photo ID to fly domestically, because, you know, most children don't drive. What does the federal government have to say? The Canada Transport Agency, the government body that regulates air, rail and marine travel (for children who do not look 18 or over), says:

"While there are no identification requirements for younger passengers travelling within Canada, some carriers recommend that they present some form of valid, government-issued identification for identity screening purposes. Check with your carrier for its requirement before departure."
Source: Canada Transport Agency: Your Travel Documents

Right, so lesson learned, if your child is younger than 18 (or does not look 18 as the federal government requires airports/airlines to screen everyone who looks 18 or older), you need to review the identification requirements of the airline you are using. Below are the requirements for the 3 major airlines that fly within Canada. Please note that there are different requirements for minor children flying alone and for children who are under the age of 2.

Air Canada

"For travellers younger than 18, an original birth certificate or non-government issued ID (e.g. a student card) is suggested but not mandatory at this time, unless our Unaccompanied Minor service is used"
Source: Air Canada Website: Travel Documents

Porter Airlines

"Porter request that passengers under 18 years of age travelling within Canada present one piece of valid identification (government-issued with or without photograph preferred), however this is NOT mandatory for travel.

For Unaccompanied Minors and Infants under 2 years of age, Porter requires government issued ID with a Date of Birth to meet various security and governmental regulations.

Important: The name on the identification must match the name on the boarding pass"
Source: Porter's Website: Identification Requirements
"We strongly recommend that all children travel with one piece of government-issued identification"

For children under age of 2, "proof of age is required. If you do not have proof of age, you will be required to purchase a seat for your child. The purchase of the seat will be fully refunded if proof of age is provided to WestJet within 7 days of the flight having been completed".
Source: WestJet's Website: ID Requirements

Like Air Canada and Porter, WestJet has special requirements for children travelling alone. 

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