The often criticized Transportation Security Administration (TSA) won praise from the U.S. Travel Association, which applauded the TSA for its decision to pilot a "trusted traveler" program. The program is generally aligned with U.S.Travel's March 2011 recommendation.
TSA's program is expected to test enhancements to TSA's pre-flight, identity-based screening capabilities through a partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. air carriers.
"We applaud Administrator Pistole's courage to find a better way to conduct air travel security screening," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "While this program will be limited at the outset, it is a strong start. We look forward to working with TSA to move our nation's air travel security away from today's one-size-fits-all approach."
According to the TSA, certain frequent travelers of American and Delta Air Lines and certain members of CBP's existing trusted traveler programs traveling through Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit and Miami will be eligible to participate in the pilot.
TSA is expected to expand the pilot to include United Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue, US Airways, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, as well as additional airports, once operationally ready.
In March, the U.S. Travel Association partnered with Tom Ridge, former secretary of Homeland Security, Jim Turner, former Democratic congressman and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Sam Gilliland, chairman and CEO of Sabre Holdings, to recommend a risk-based trusted traveler program where travelers could voluntarily provide background information to qualify for expedited screening, similar to trusted traveler programs operated by CBP.
"Recent studies show that travelers are widely supportive of this concept," said Dow. "As the program evolves, it is critical that eligibility expands beyond frequent flier programs and that the entirety of the security process – lines and screening – is improved for all travelers."