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By Nate Odenkirk

On May 7, 2025, U.S. travelers must be REAL ID compliant to board domestic flights and access certain federal facilities.


We here at the TSA are tremendously proud of the new security protocols built into our REAL ID system. But while the upgrade helps us verify that you’re physically you, we know you are so much more! You are a rich and vibrant person, multi-faceted and alive with possibilities!

Needless to say, this poses a major security challenge at airports. When a passenger boards, they are also bringing along their hopes, dreams, flaws, and insecurities––and those carry-ons need to be examined, too. That’s why we’re working on the next step: REALEST ID, the ID system that helps us verify the complete you!

REALEST IDs won’t include vitals like height, weight, or eye color. In their place, REALEST ID will list your dream job, the last movie that made you cry, and an endearing story from a recent campfire experience. Instead of asking where you’re going, our agents will ask What are you chasing? Is it money? Love? Validation? And what makes you think you’ll find it in Raleigh? Sure, our latest x-ray technology can find an AirPod in your pants, but these enhanced questions will help us uncover your authentic self. Even if you don’t have all the answers yet, don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to contemplate such complexities: if you think airport lines are long already, imagine the wait when we start asking every traveler about their fondest memories from summer camp! We are also planning a dedicated check-in lane for Americans carrying oversize emotional baggage.


Our agency is dedicated to making airports a safe space—free from both threats to the homeland and judgements. To that end, the TSA will hire an army of therapists to be on call at every major airport in the country. Frankly, we should have begun this policy a long time ago, but these federal employees will talk you through difficult moments and breakthroughs in the REALEST ID verification process. Confidentiality is paramount; nothing you say leaves the terminal. Be sure to arrive at least fourteen hours before departure to ensure every passenger gets a full fifty-minute session with your therapist. (Please note we will employ a psychoanalyst at LAX.)

Through it all, our security standards will remain comprehensive. There will still be TSA Precheck, and you can qualify simply by producing documentation of you expressing yourself unapologetically: dance, short prose or poetry, theatrical performance (lute composition or scrapbooking also qualify). We are not looking for the art to be “good.” Rather, all we want is for you to verify your identity, and we would love to see what that means to you… Or, you could totally just wait in the regular line. That’s okay too. No pressure!

So take off your emotional outer jacket and come be your realest with us, the Transportation Security Administration. REALEST ID is coming in 2028, so get in that DMV line now!

(But you’ll still have to take off your shoes.)

Thank you for reading!
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