Irish passengers on the outside looking in

Bad luck 'O' the Irish: Apostrophe in name could get you thrown off flights in ID mix-up


Irish passengers on the outside looking in

Bill O'Reilly, Rosie O'Donnell and Maureen O'Hara could soon be thrown off U.S. flights under tough new airline rules.

The reason?

The Transportation Security Administration will soon insist on matching passengers’ boarding passes to their IDs  - including any apostrophes hyphen and initials.

The problem there is that most computer systems don't recognize apostrophes which means it's Bad Luck O' The Irish for people with an O' in their name - like half the Irish population.

Once the new rules are in place, Mary O'Connor won't be flying unless her boarding pass says Mary OConnor.

But it won't be Mary's fault.

The airline systems can't handle Irish O'Names so they run the last name as OConnor. Which is not the same as the name on Mary's passport or driving licence.

Irish Central founder and publisher Niall O'Dowd found this out the hard way when he was trying to book a flight to Atlanta.

"I had to drop the apostrophe and run my name as 'ODowd,'" he said. "I felt like I was giving up my national identity."

Another frequent Irish flier, Sean O'Hare, said he regularly has trouble in the U.S.

"I don't understand why the airlines can't cope with apostrophes," he said.

"Every time I come to the U.S. I have trouble with it.

"The irony of it all is that the airport I use the most is O'Hare in Chicago.

"I pointed out that I had the same name as the airport but they weren't happy about it."

The Transportation Security Administration says the program, which is part for the Secure Flight initiative, is expected to be fully operational in 2010.

Unfortunately for all the Irish O's out there, this rule is definitely going to make flying more challenging.


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