U.S. Travel Association Supports DHS Customer Service Provisions

Traveler friendly policies came a step closer as the U.S. Travel Association applauded customer service changes and the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) trusted traveler program included by the House Homeland Security Committee in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (H.R. 3116).

Three amendments accepted by the committee - and authored by Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) - aim to improve professionalism and customer service efforts within DHS agencies and expand TSA's trusted traveler program, U.S. Travel notes.

"The first calls for the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan to enhance agency customer service through the collection of traveler feedback, the establishment of metrics, the creation of best practices and increased reporting on performance. Also included are provisions defining oversight of these efforts to ensure travelers' comments are collected, analyzed and responded to in a timely manner," U.S. Travel said.

The second amendment requires enhanced transparency regarding Customs and Border Protection (CBP) wait times at aviation ports of entry, specifically defining how to calculate the wait time, calling for the agency to publish live wait times on its website and to submit monthly reports to Congress ranking CBP's performance on an airport-by-airport basis. The reports would also be made public.

The third amendment requires CBP to cross enroll its trusted travelers in TSA's trusted traveler program (PreCheck). The amendment solidifies the existing cooperation between CBP and TSA on trusted traveler programs and encourages them to broaden their cooperation to include in PreCheck all persons enrolled in CBP trusted traveler programs.

"As we work to improve aviation security, reform the U.S. visa process and increase America's share of the international travel market, improving customer service throughout our travel infrastructure will be critical as more people travel to, and within, our country," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the association. "We commend Chairman King (R-NY) for his leadership in moving this bill forward, and we thank Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) for her amendments that will improve traveler facilitation."

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