TSA to roll out ‘Trusted Traveler’ program

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
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After months of growing public discontent over its security measures, the Transportation Security Administration announced today it will soon begin rolling out a program to speed up travel for certain passengers who voluntarily offer information about themselves.

The pilot program, which will begin this fall, is based on similar programs in use by U.S. Customs. Certain frequent fliers and all members of Custom and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler programs will be eligible to participate.

Initially, the program will only be available to Delta passengers flying out of Atlanta or Detroit, and American Airlines passengers departing Miami or Dallas. But if it’s successful, TSA said it plans to expand the program to include United, Southwest, JetBlue, US Airways, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.

“These improvements will enable our officers to focus their efforts on higher-risk areas,” TSA Administrator John Pistole wrote in a press release. “Enhancing identity-based screening is another common sense step in the right direction as we continue to strengthen overall security and improve the passenger experience whenever possible.”

To be eligible, passengers must be U.S. citizens and voluntarily offer information about themselves prior to flying. Passengers in the program would still be subject to recurrent security checks.

In a press release, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Ranking Member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, welcomed the decision. (Chamber of Commerce, House Republicans in dust-up over highway bill)

“If we continue to give extra screening to individuals who pose no threat, while others who should arouse suspicion bypass check points without being questioned, our systems are clearly not working properly,” Sen. Collins said. “I hope this effort will provide for more efficient use of the government’s limited screening resources, improve the security of travelers and permit less intrusive and speedier screening procedures for the general public.”