Global airline execs: Screening practices need to change
YARMOUTH, Maine—Airport security needs a huge overhaul or else passengers will become further disgruntled, lines will grow even longer and terminals will be overwhelmed, airline executives said this week at a global conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Tony Tyler, director general and chief executive officer of the International Air Transport Association, said he is optimistic that the current “one-size-fits-all approach to screening” can be replaced by 2020 with a system based on individual passenger risk, according to a report from The Associated Press. Tyler and other airline executives at the meeting cited the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program as an example of what is working now.
The TSA’s PreCheck pre-screening initiative makes risk assessments on passengers who voluntarily participate before they arrive at airport checkpoints. Once passengers are accepted into the program they get expedited check-ins, allowing them to avoid procedures such as removing their shoes and jackets. The program, currently in place at 27 airports, is expected to be in place at 35 before the end of this year.
But PreCheck has its shortcomings. Bloomberg Businessweek reported this week that because it is up to individual airlines to submit their frequent fliers’ applications for the program to the TSA, and airlines don’t share that information with other airlines, a passenger has to apply to each carrier for PreCheck clearance.
Airlines want the government to expand PreCheck and support efforts to help customers qualify across carriers, the spokeswoman for Airlines for America, Victoria Day, told Bloomberg. Day’s Washington-based trade group represents Delta Air Lines and United Continental, among others.
Douglas Hofsass, assistant administrator for the TSA’s Office of Risk Based Security, told Bloomberg that “technically, we don’t have the ability right now, based on the way the eligibility requirements are transmitted to the individual carrier, the way those individuals opt in and the way those records come into us, to validate those individuals."
But, “It doesn’t mean we don’t have an idea as to how we might solve that,” he said.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, said the TSA needs to find a private-industry partner to market the program and create a database of PreCheck enrollees.
“This is another example of TSA’s failure to effectively communicate early on with the private sector,” Rogers told Bloomberg. “It’s TSA’s responsibility to work with the airlines to find an appropriate solution. If TSA had done it right the first time, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”