TSA May Be Cutting Back On Security Screening At Smaller Airports

Vandana Rambaran | Political Reporter

The Transportation Security Administration might forgo passenger security screening at more than 150 small- and medium-sized airports with airplanes that seat 60 passengers or fewer.

The TSA proposal would allow passengers traveling from a smaller airport to forgo baggage and personal screening until they arrived at a larger airport for a connecting flight, according to documents from June and July that were obtained and reviewed by CNN. Currently, TSA requires that all passengers and luggage be screened at any airport before flights, but the new proposal would allow thousands of passengers to go unchecked.

This change marks the biggest change to airport security in America since the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 and could save the agency $115 million annually, funds they determined can be used to beef up security at larger airports. (RELATED: TSA Stands By Monitoring Program For Those Deemed A ‘Unique Passenger’)

A TSA working group is analyzing potential change that could allow approximately 10,000 passengers to fly unchecked. It says only about 0.5 percent of people who depart from the U.S. daily will be affected, according to CNN.

This would amount to a “small (non-zero) undesirable increase in risk related to additional adversary opportunity,” the proposal reads.

Although the working group of 20 TSA officials who weighed the benefits and risks of the security changes believes small aircrafts would not be an “attractive” target to terrorists because there aren’t as many passengers onboard, some still worry that mitigated security provides unnecessary safety and economic risks for Americans.

“Al Qaeda and ISIS still regard aviation as a priority target — that includes aircraft where you have fewer than 60 people on board,” CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said in the report. “They would see that as a way to hit the headlines. They would see that as a way to inflict severe economic damage on the United States. If you have an aircraft of 50 or so people being blown out of the sky there is going to be a great amount of panic and there will indeed be significant economic reverberations, and of course significant loss of life.”

The proposal is also in opposition to the Trump administration’s efforts to heighten airplane security, including banning laptops from carry-on baggage at nearly 280 airports in more than 100 countries in June 2017.

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