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For more than 30 years, I’ve traveled extensively for business and pleasure. So I never thought I’d make a rookie mistake like showing up at the airport without an ID. But recently, that’s exactly what happened.

I was in the taxi on my way to the airport when, to my shock, I realized my driver’s license and primary credit card were both missing. I’d accidentally left them in my hotel room, and had no time to return to retrieve them. I had two domestic flights ahead of me, and a sudden sense of impending doom.

I arrived at the airport and slogged toward security like a schoolboy without his homework assignment. But my dread, as it turned out, was unwarranted. I explained my situation to the patient TSA agent who then called a supervisor over, standard protocol in this surprisingly common scenario. My ticket was on my phone, and by showing her a (non-lost) credit card and insurance card, both of which had my name on them, I was able to prove my identity to their satisfaction. My carry-on luggage had to be hand searched (again, standard operating procedure in this situation) but I made it through security and it only added about five minutes to the process. And, it’s worth mentioning, every TSA agent I encountered along the way was tremendously helpful.

My second ID-less flight, which occurred on the same trip, was even easier. Because I have a CLEAR pass, and the second airport accepted this form of identification, I never even had to fess up to being ID-less. The CLEAR pass works using biometrics, so a simple scan of my eyes was all it took for me to speed through security.

Though I don’t plan on traveling without an ID again anytime soon, I admit I did learn a thing or two from this experience. And my advice to anyone else who finds themselves in the same situation? Simple. Don’t freak out.

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