LAX TSA Supervisor Says I need a US Passport To Travel To Puerto Rico

Recently, during my departure from LAX Airport after a remarkable week at Hispanicize in Hollywood, I encountered an issue that sheds light on the need for better communication and understanding between travelers from Puerto Rico and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This incident not only disrupted my travel plans but also highlighted the ongoing challenges faced by Puerto Rico as a U.S. territory. In this blog post, I will share my experience and propose practical solutions to improve the TSA's handling of Puerto Rico travelers, ensuring a smoother and more inclusive travel experience for everyone involved.

A Frustrating Encounter

As I was preparing to board my flight, I found myself on the verge of missing it due to a disagreement with Mr. Lee Obrien, a TSA Supervisor at the Security Check Point. He insisted that a U.S. passport was mandatory for departing from Puerto Rico, refusing to accept my valid Puerto Rico driver's license as a sufficient form of identification. This incident left me deeply frustrated, considering the implications it had for my journey and the broader issue it represents.

Puerto Rico's Unique Situation

Adding to the frustration, as a proud ex-service member of the U.S. Military, I am acutely aware that Puerto Rico, my homeland, remains a U.S. territory with limited rights, such as the inability to vote for the U.S. President or have representation in Congress. This incident at the airport reminded me once again of the challenges faced by Puerto Rico and the need for greater awareness and understanding of its unique status.

Clarity and Consistency in TSA Policies

One key takeaway from this experience is the importance of clear and consistent communication of TSA policies and requirements. TSA agents, like Mr. Obrien, often seem to operate as rigid rule enforcers, lacking the necessary clarity on the rules themselves. This leads to confusion and unnecessary complications for travelers, especially those from Puerto Rico, who may face distinct identification challenges.

Implementing Technological Solutions:

To address these issues, I propose that the TSA invest in technology-driven solutions to enhance the efficiency and accuracy of the identification process. By leveraging databases and handheld devices, TSA agents could quickly validate the identification documents presented, thereby reducing human errors and misunderstandings. Such a system would ensure a smoother travel experience for all passengers and alleviate unnecessary delays or inconveniences caused by misinterpretations of identification requirements.

Advocating for Change

While I will be submitting a complaint to the TSA regarding my specific experience, it is important to recognize that individual complaints often go unheard. To bring about meaningful change, it is crucial for travelers and advocacy groups to collaborate in raising awareness of these issues and pushing for improvements. By shining a light on incidents like mine, we can encourage the TSA to review and revise their protocols, fostering a more inclusive and efficient travel environment.

My encounter with Mr. Lee Obrien at LAX Airport highlighted the need for improved communication and understanding between the TSA and Puerto Rico travelers. By striving for clarity and consistency in their policies and by embracing technology to enhance the identification process, the TSA can ensure a smoother travel experience for everyone. Let us work together to advocate for change and create a more inclusive and efficient travel environment for all travelers, regardless of their place of origin or unique circumstances.


  1. Johnny Rivera on April 12, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Perhaps if Puerto Rico became the 51st state, we couldn’t have these problems. Just a thought. 😉

    • Raul Colon on April 12, 2011 at 1:20 am


      So your analysis states that when we become a state all TSA Agents are not going to make mistakes on the job. This is an issue of the person not knowing the rules. I am more than sure that even if we where a state individuals like these will act the same.

      Will the U.S. President be able to part the sea to connect us to the Mainland too? I guess you believe in Miracles and that is wishful thinking!

      • Chiqui on April 12, 2011 at 1:53 am

        So, your analysis Raul is that once PR is independent TSA Agents will no longer make mistakes? If the issue is a person not knowing the rules, why bring PR staus into your post?

        I would like you see you come up with a balance PR budget under Independence… now, THAT would be a miracle! LOL

        • Raul Colon on April 12, 2011 at 2:46 am

          It would be great if you did not comment anonymously. But read the post and I would gladly provide my passport if my Country was independent. But since we are not we have to play by the rules of Good Old Uncle Sam.

          So TSA Agents should play by the rules of Uncle Sam! Does that make sense or was your purpose to simply distort my point of view?

    • Toxic Lunch on April 12, 2011 at 1:31 am

      I think you might need to stop huffing ether before you comment. Also, you might need to let go of uncle sam’s cock.

  2. Lindation on April 12, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I can’t believe there can be someone so clueless working in such a high security position. Shocked, apalled and disappointed.

    • Raul Colon on April 12, 2011 at 1:22 am

      That is the sad part I have bumped into far to many.

  3. Anonymous on April 12, 2011 at 1:54 am

    I don’t think becoming part of the U.S. is a solution to the supervisor and his subordinate being inept. It’s representative of the lack of education and training those people get. Anyone who has a surname that is not Smith or Jones is going to continue to have these problems of profiling.

    • Raul Colon on April 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm

      I have to agree that since I was in LA they probably thought I was trying to go by as a Puerto Rican. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Anonymous on April 12, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Incredible, just incredible. You know what is amazing here? That the PR Toursim board has spent millions and millions on ads in the US, and guess what, no one in the US cares.

  5. Jaime Pereira on April 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    If “your” country were an independent country, perhaps you wouldn’t have had access to the U.S. in the first place; thus you could have avoided this whole incident. On the other hand, if your country (and mine) were a state, this wouldn’t have happened either. Are you seriously trying to use this stupid mistake as a promotional argument towards Puerto Rico’s independence? Get real!

  6. Anonymous on April 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    This post has NOTHING to do with Puerto Rico’s status (hola, Jaime!). The bigger issue is this: the government of Luis “El Gran Mamao” Fortuño has spent MILLIONS on educating the masses about Puerto Rican tourism and the NO PASSPORT rule, and here is a FEDERAL employee who is supposed to know what the travel requirements are. That is all. Move on, Jaime. Good to see you, bro.

  7. Anonymous on April 12, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I bet that that TSA agent doesn’t know that Puertorrican residents are also American citizens (therefore no need for a US passport). Did the agent apologize to you when he found out that you could travel with a PR driver’s license (no illegal immigration issue)? Anyway, eventually, and this is my forecast, we’ll have to travel with US passports to avoid unpleasant surprises. The money spent on the NO Passport ads could be invested for more productive uses.

    • Raul Colon on April 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm


      The agent never apologized he used a debit card to allow me to pass thru security after making me wait for a ridiculous amount of time.

      My biggest issue was the ignorance of all of them. But then they solved the problem with something who I am more than sure was not authorized. I just finished a post on the subject.

  8. Kofla olivieri on April 12, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I am surprised you were not detained and shipped to Mexico, lol In all honesty, I am NOT surprised. Most Americans are unable to name their state capital, why their country celebrate the Fourth of July or who they fought in the Revolution War. They are simply clueless.

    • Raul Colon on April 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      I am more than sure that was going to be the next steps with their attitude.

  9. rbeato on April 12, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Raul. This is not really about politics or colonial status, this is about the excessive authority given to the Homeland Security program. TSA agents want to make you feel watched and annoyed and would propably cite their duty to protect your liberty or some other rhetoric. Remember when all liquids were treated as bombs? pens as weapons? with fox news or msnbc talking about the war? Propaganda galore.
    I always use my passport for my travels. After all, when else will I use it? I understand that Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii and Alaska might have to pass this drill given the offshore location they have.
    This is not politics, it is just geography. Anyway, the policy of passport use is inconsistent. After all, the goal is to annoy and make you feel annoyed, as any good propaganda tool is.
    Here are some points to ponder, from previous threads:
    On the meantime, be happy you did not get the full cavity search…

    • Raul Colon on April 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      I agree with your argument but no need to conform and allow their behavior. So unless you are joking don’t understand how you can tell me to be happy about the full cavity search.

    • Raul Colon on April 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      I agree with your argument but no need to conform and allow their behavior. So unless you are joking don’t understand how you can tell me to be happy about the full cavity search.

      • rbeato on April 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm

        C’mon Raul, of course I am just joking. Your issue is passport use, a few months ago everybody was concerned about the backscatter scanners. Before, the liquid use. Those that did not want to be irradiated or wanted to have their pubes screened were screened manually. A show for the masses, be screened or prepare to be massaged. It was such a show of force and so uncomfortable that even Obama joked about it in his last state of the union address.
        One can do the typical complaint, and be cynical about it. But then again, not when I am about to lose my flight.
        (as a matter of fact I almost lost a flight thanks to the inept goons at JFK, that did not tell me that offshore baggage needed to be rescreened to be sent to Puerto Rico. I had to play Marco Polo with the orange, red, blue and yellow flags to reach the bag and rescreen it on the other side of the airport). I was the last one to board the plane…

        • Raul Colon on April 12, 2011 at 8:40 pm

          Just wanted to make sure. It’s ok to disagree.

          Sorry about your situation! Thanks for the resources.

    • Raul Colon on April 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      I agree with your argument but no need to conform and allow their behavior. So unless you are joking don’t understand how you can tell me to be happy about the full cavity search.

    • Raul Colon on April 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      I agree with your argument but no need to conform and allow their behavior. So unless you are joking don’t understand how you can tell me to be happy about the full cavity search.

  10. Mike Robles on May 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    A TSA SUPERVISOR?? Supervisor? Like the guy in charge???

    I would of told him, if he can point out Puerto Rico on a Map,

    I’ll present a Passport!!!

    Que Pendejo – lmao

    • Raul Colon on May 11, 2011 at 8:23 pm


      I need you there.. LOL That is great.. I will use that one. The advantages of being a comedian…