It has come to this. There is a self-help guide from the ACLU on what to do if you think you are on the U.S. government’s no-fly list. Oh, and the TSA says 99 percent of the people who contact them about no-fly have been denied boarding only because their names are similar to a real bad guy. In most applications, a 99 percent failure rate is cause for alarm for an organization. In a more practical sense, a key issue is that people are never notified they are on the no-fly list. The only way to even get a hint is to buy an airplane ticket and be prevented from boarding once you arrive at the airport after at check-in the airline receives a “no-fly” message. Through the interrogation process you may (or you may not) learn you might live in the list. You will never have any idea why you are on the list; maybe you share a similar name with some real or imagined bad guy. Still on the list? The only way to tell is to buy another ticket and see if you can board. Repeat.
After all that, one option if you find yourself denied boarding is to contact the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) via their TRIP Program and ask them to remove your name from the no-fly list. You might succeed just by asking nice. To start, you simply use DHS' online form. The process can take from several weeks to forever, so don't expect any quick trips to follow. And if that fails, the ACLU does have that handy cheat-sheet with all the details. Until then Americans, happy travels!