Washington -

The U.S. Travel Association is making a direct appeal to the American news media: please mention the October 1, 2020 deadline for REAL ID enforcement in this year’s round of Thanksgiving travel stories.

By next Thanksgiving, the mandate to possess a REAL ID-compliant identity document for air travel will be in full effect—and about 57% of Americans are completely unaware of that deadline, according to data released by U.S. Travel in September.


U.S. Travel research further found that about 99 million Americans were likely without any form of REAL ID—a compliant driver’s license, a passport, or a military ID—at the time of the survey. Anyone who shows up at the airport next October 1 without the correct ID risks being turned away from getting on a plane.

U.S. Travel leaders fear that individuals who only travel occasionally, such as to visit family over the holidays, are most likely to be affected—making this year’s coverage of holiday travel a crucial opportunity to spread the word about REAL ID.

“Significant lack of awareness is one of the challenges we face as the REAL ID enforcement deadline approaches next year,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “We are concerned not only about the post-deadline effects for major travel times like Thanksgiving, but also about the significant crunch at state DMVs throughout next year as people scramble to obtain their REAL ID.”

The message that must be repeated to get people #RealIDready, Dow said: At a minimum, check for the star that appears in the top right-hand corner of most REAL IDs—but ideally, contact your DMV directly to find out if you’re compliant.

“The holidays are a time when less-frequent flyers might be thinking about air travel, and there is always ample news coverage of holiday travel projections and conditions at U.S. airports,” Dow said. “The next two months are going to be critical for closing the REAL ID awareness gap. We need broad activation across the public and private sectors to get the job done.”

U.S. Travel has been reaching out to a wide coalition of partners—government agencies, local and state tourism boards, and large and small travel companies, to name a few—to encourage REAL ID education efforts. The association’s REAL ID toolkit is aimed at helping stakeholders get the word out with turnkey resources and consistent messaging.

The association is also recommending policy measures to avoid major challenges at U.S. airports next October.

For more information about REAL ID, additional findings from the study, policy recommendations, and other resources, click here.


U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing the $1.3 trillion travel industry, an essential contributor to our nation's economy and success. U.S. Travel produces programs and insights and advocates for policies to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for more information.



Cathy Reynolds

Manager, Media Relations and Lead Manager, IPW Press Operations

Email ›