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Reimbursement of Baggage Fees

Many major airlines are now charging fees for checked baggage. Currently, only two airlines (United and US Airways) are charging travelers on a Government fare a fee for the first checked bag. HHS travel policy is to reimburse travelers for the charge for the first checked bag. If a Government traveler receives authorization to fly on a non-Government (commercial) fare, the traveler will be charged the airline’s checked baggage fee (if applicable).

We realize that at times it may be necessary to travel with more than one bag. Several airlines now charge Government travelers a fee for the second and any additional checked bag. HHS will reimburse travelers for the fees for additional bags when the baggage is needed for the conduct of official business. If additional baggage is used for personal items, an OPDIV/STAFFDIV has the discretion whether to reimburse a traveler for any fees incurred for such baggage.

Please note that any reimbursement for airline baggage charges (whether for first or additional bags) must be approved in advance of traveland clearly indicated on the travel authorization.

Please refer to the GSA - Baggage Allowance for an up-to-date list of airlines that have instituted a charge for a checked bag and the fee.

TSA Secure Flight and You

Beginning September 15, 2010, airlines will begin enforcing the TSA's Secure Flight initiative. The Secure Flight initiative requires every traveler to have their Name, DOB, and Gender included in their air reservation. This information must match the Government Issued ID (drivers license, Passport or State Issued ID) presented at the airport. This informationis not optional. Flight reservations that do not contain Secure Flight data will be cancelled by the airline 72 hours prior to departure date. The purpose of collecting this information is to allow TSA to perform terrorist watch list matching that is currently being done by each airline. Failure to provide the required elements in advance could: (1) inhibit your ability to get a boarding pass either at home or at the airport until the information has been provided; and, (2) require you to undergo additional airport security screening.

A Redress Number

If you have a name similar to or the same as a name on the current terrorist watch list, and have experienced secondary security screenings at airports, you will have the option of preventing this in the future by providing your Redress Number at the time of booking. A Redress Number is a unique number that helps TSA eliminate watch list misidentification. To apply for a Redress Number go to TSA.gov.

Tips for Travelers

When making reservations, give the travel agent your full name, date of birth and gender. Also provide your Redress Number if you have one. All data elements should match exactly the ID you plan to present at the airport. For example, if your state-issued driver’s license lists your name as Anthony Q Public, then your reservation must be booked as Anthony Q Public, not Tony Q Public or A. Quinn Public. If your full middle name is on the ID, you must include your full middle name in the reservation.

Verify your name on your frequent traveler profiles. If you signed up for frequent traveler programs using a nickname or a name other than your name as shown on your identification, you should contact each frequent traveler program to update your name to match Secure Flight’s full name requirement. For example, frequent traveler program participant Tony Q Public should update his frequent flyer profiles to Anthony Q Public so that he does not jeopardize receiving credit when traveling under his full name as required by Secure Flight.

If you use your state-issued ID card for some trips and your passport for other trips, check to see if the names match exactly, as passports often include full middle names and a state issued ID cards may only include a middle initial. If the names do not match exactly, for each trip you must remember to use the name format of the identifying document that you plan to use.

Be sure to bring your valid government-issued documentation when flying.

Visit TSA.gov for updates on Secure Flight.

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Content created by Assist. Sec./Administration - Program Support Center
Content last reviewed on June 17, 2014