U.S Travel Association Unveils Air
Travel Security Screening System
March 17, 2011 - The U.S Travel Association and a panel
of travel and security experts on Wednesday unveiled a
groundbreaking plan to improve security at
Among the most notable recommendations are the creation
of a trusted traveler program and a requirement that
travelers be allowed to check at least one bag at no
additional cost to the ticket price as a means to reduce
the amount of luggage going through the security
The need for reform was made especially clear by recent research revealing that travelers are avoiding two to three trips per year due to unnecessary hassles associated with the security screening process. These avoided trips come at a cost of $85 billion and 900,000 jobs to the American economy.
recommendations, the culmination of a year-long analysis to
remake aviation security screening, were issued in a report
1. Improve the TSA checkpoint by increasing efficiency, decreasing passenger wait times and screening passengers based on risk;
2. Generate greater governmental efficiency and cooperation in executing its security responsibilities; and
government and passengers deserve credit for preventing another
terrorist attack like what happened nearly 10 years ago on 9/11,
each day in the United States roughly two million air travelers
are advised to arrive upwards of two hours before a flight in
order to be processed through a one-size-fits-all security
screening system,? said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S.
?The country that
put a man on the moon, invented the Internet and creates daily
innovations in manufacturing can and must do better in screening
passengers and improving our air travel experience. Air travel is the
gateway to commerce and an improved experience is directly tied to job
creation and a stronger economy.?
The blue ribbon
panel created by U.S. Travel was chaired by former Department of
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former Congressman Jim Turner and
Sam Gilliland, president and chief executive officer of Sabre Holdings.
consisted of former top officials from DHS and TSA; representatives from
the airline, airport, logistics and security technology sectors; and
leaders who represent the destinations and other businesses reliant on a
functional air travel system.
In helping U.S. Travel introduce the report, former Secretary
Ridge said: ?A strong aviation security screening system must feature
several characteristics, including efficient methods of deterring and
interdicting terrorists and criminals; tailored security based upon risk
assessment; frequent, clear communication with the traveling public; and
cost-effective use of resources.?
the complexity of addressing the current challenges, noting solutions
will require cooperation, and possibly sacrifices by airlines, airports,
the broader travel industry, the traveling public, federal agencies and
the Congress, which he said must take responsibility for leading change.
shifts undermine the ability of our nation to create a secure and
efficient aviation system, and demonstrate a lack of a long-term vision
for aviation security,? Dow said. ?TSA and its officers often bear
unjustified public criticism for simply carrying out the ever-changing
policies set by Congress and an unwillingness to date to embrace risk
management. If this pattern is to change, Congress must set the tone and
take on the responsibility of improving the current system."
Rooted in the
diverse professional and political viewpoints of the panelists, the
group did not always find consensus in how to address the difficult
challenges. Among the panel?s recommendations in the report:
- Implement a risk-based trusted traveler program. Congress should authorize TSA to implement a new, voluntary, government-run trusted traveler program that utilizes a risk-based approach to checkpoint screening, with the goal of refocusing resources on the highest risk passengers;
- Improve preparation of travelers. Industry stakeholders should work with TSA to improve their education and communication on security rules and regulations, targeting locations and sources that travelers are likely to review as they book or prepare for a trip;
- Encourage fewer
carry-on bags. The Department of Transportation (DOT) should issue
regulations requiring airlines to allow passengers one checked bag as
part of their base airfare and standardize existing rules covering the
quantity and size of items that can be carried onto an airplane;
duplicative TSA screening for international arrivals. DHS should enable
certain low-risk passengers who are traveling to another domestic
airport to forego checked baggage and passenger screening upon landing
- Expand trusted
traveler programs to qualified international passengers. DHS should
expand access to international trusted traveler programs for
international passengers entering the
- Give TSA
authority over the entire checkpoint area.
Congress should immediately act to clear up confusion over
?ownership? of commercial aviation security and authorize TSA to control
the entire security checkpoint starting at the beginning of the security
lines and ending after a traveler exits the screening area;
- Develop a
comprehensive technology procurement strategy.
TSA, in collaboration with technology vendors and the travel
community, should develop a comprehensive strategy for implementing
necessary checkpoint technology capabilities. Congress should provide
multi-year funding plans for TSA to execute this strategy;
well-defined risk management processes. The Administration should
convene an external panel of experts with appropriate security
clearances to review TSA aviation security programs, assess the risk
each is designed to mitigate and develop metrics for measuring progress
to lessen that risk.
Dow urged Congress
and the Administration to seriously considering implementing the panel?s
recommendations as quickly as possible, pointing out the current
aviation security system is discouraging Americans from flying and
contributing to a decline in productivity among those who choose to fly.
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