Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Am I OK to wear the coloured lenses to the airport for security checks?


Q  This may seems like a strange question but I am flying to New York from Heathrow next Saturday and often wear brown contact lenses to filter out overhead lighting as this triggers migraines for me. My "normal" eye colour is blue. Am I OK to wear the coloured lenses to the airport for security checks or will this cause me any problems?

S Carby

A I am sorry to hear about the migraine issue, but glad there is a solution. Your temporary change of eye colour should present no problem at all until you touch down in New York, and even then I would be surprised if you experience any difficulty.

Let's just look at the identification hurdles you face on the journey. The first encounter is at the airline check-in at the airport. The staff's main concern is that your passport details match the ticket, and that you have permission to fly to the US (probably a valid "ESTA", the online authorisation).

At the main security search, there is no need to show your passport. At the gate, your passport will be reconciled against the boarding pass, and you may possibly face some extra scrutiny from security staff - but again, the colour of your eyes will not be of interest.

Upon arrival at JFK, there is a small chance that any discrepancy between your eyes and the eye colour on your passport might be noticed, so you may wish to remove the lenses before you join the Customs & Border Protection line. You will, incidentally, be photographed and fingerprinted when you reach the head of the queue.

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