Louisiana residents might need official documents for air travel in the new year

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Routine air travel as we know it could soon change for Louisiana residents.

"If I said real ID act to you would you know what I'm talking about? No. I never heard of it."

"How did this happen, when did it happen, I know nothing about it."

Because Louisiana licenses are currently not in full compliance with the act, official government documents like passports would be required beginning January 15 of 2013.

"We get multiple calls every day."

Jim Caldwell is Baton Rouge Metro Airport's public relations manager and says he understands concern over the need for a passport but adds as of now, there is still no definitive answer.

"Unfortunately, we can't really give an answer beyond what we stated before that we're hopeful an extension will be granted but we don't know at this time," said Caldwell.

Louisiana's decision to opt out of the federal government's Real ID Act dates back to 2008 and legislators say it was simply a matter of control and privacy.

"There was so much unknown with the original act that was passed by congress and there were a number of states that said we aren't going to do this and subject our residents to this and then also additional costs not provided for by the federal government," said State Representative Hunter Greene

According to U.S. Senators David Vitter and Mary Landrieu, Louisiana is in compliance with most of the Real ID Act's requirements and is currently working with the Department of Homeland Security to approve its status but either way, State Representative Greene says there is no reason to panic.

"What I'm being told is that everyone will be able to fly even if you don't have a passport.  It's just it may take longer if you don't have a passport," added Greene.

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