Taking this idea of UL travel a bit further, I spent most of Monday at various airports traveling from SFO, to Phoenix, then LA, and back to SFO. But what made the trip considerably more of an adventure than usual was that I was flying ultra-light.
I'd left my wallet at home. I had no ID at all: no drivers' license, no business cards, no credit cards, nothing at all.
Which is how I found out that it is, indeed, possible to fly without a photo ID. They ask a lot of questions, and discuss it all with NTSA in Washington DC...but once they are satisfied that you are who you say you are, they let you fly.
And since each airport has a slightly different protocol, I was able to verify this three times in one day.
Not exactly the way I had planned it, and not something I would recommend. But it is posslble.
I did that once (forgot my ID). I was feeling pretty clever with myself as I got on the plane to New Jersey. Then I got to the car rental agency and discovered you CANNOT rent a car without a drivers license in your hand.
I took a cab to the hotel and the next morning walked to the business I was visiting.
It was an eventful trip. I had my wife fedex my driver's license to me and that evening a guy from the company I was visiting gave me a lift back to the airport (That was very nice of them considering the purpose of my business trip was to perform a government audit on them... not something they enjoy having done.)
That should be the end of the story... but its not: On the way back to the hotel, the highway I was on flooded. I figured I had a rental car, so what the heck and got into a convoy of mostly SUV's trying to drive through the flooded section. I was in the wake of a BMW sedan in front of me and still the water was lapping over my hood. Suddenly the BMW stalled out. I figured I was down for, so I just floored the accelerated. I passed the BMW, my car started to sputter and suddenly my car emerged from the water.
They are calling and using credit agencies' databases to verify your identity. What is interesting is that TSA's authority only extends at the checkpoint to search passengers for weapons, explosives and incendiaries. The regulations have never been changed to require confirming identity as a requirement to clear the checkpoint. In fact, in the Gilmore case, the TSA stated that the alternative to presenting id was a more thorough search of your person and possessions, not that you would be unable to be cleared.