Thursday, January 24, 2013

How to get through airport security more quickly

John Pistole knows the TSA is the federal agency lots of folks love to hate. The head of the Transportation Security Administration met with the Observer editorial board this morning to talk about how he's trying to change his agency's image - and make things easier for travelers.

Charlotte was the first stop on a tour designed to make the public aware of changes at the TSA. Pistole said his agency is undergoing "a paradigm shift" designed to make getting through airport security less of a hassle for regular travelers while remaining vigilant about catching potential terrorists.

At the heart of the shift: What the TSA calls "risk-based security." The theory: TSA screens about 1.8 million people at airports each day, and almost every single one of them poses no terrorist threat. So the TSA is moving away from a "one-size-fits-all" approach to security checks to one that Pistole says is more tailored and precise. The idea is to figure out who poses a very low risk, let them through a bit more easily and focus the agency's resources on higher-risk passengers.

How to do that? Pistole says the TSA has developed objective criteria -- characteristics of passengers that make them higher or lower risks. Passengers who are "known and trusted" can go through a more streamlined security check.

One example: A program called PreCheck. Starting last summer, the top airlines began inviting some of their elite frequent flyers to share information about themselves in exchange for expedited screening. Those passengers get their own line, can keep their shoes on, can keep their fluids in their bags, among other things. The TSA has made other changes to streamline checks on kids, passengers over age 75, active-duty military and others.

Now Pistole, who traveled armed and didn't go through normal airport security checks while working for the FBI, wants to expand PreCheck dramatically. The TSA is working through details but plans soon to invite anyone to apply for the program, not just elite frequent flyers. Stay tuned for that.

Pistole acknowledges that the new approach could lead to profiling if not conducted properly. He expects an outside report in the next 30 to 60 days that will help the TSA better train its officers on how to ensure they don't profile. We're glad the TSA wants to target its resources at higher-risk passengers, but hope it's extremely vigilant about using objective, behavior-based criteria, not arbitrary measures like race and ethnicity.

Pistole says improving the TSA's public image is a high priority. The agency is training its officers on how to defuse tense situations before they escalate, and he has created an Office of Professional Responsibility to establish clear standards for employees.

I asked Pistole how the TSA is doing on improving its image, if 0 is where everyone hates them and 100 is where everyone considers them hard-working and professional. He wouldn't give a specific number but said, "I think we've moved off zero and are making progress. ... But we still have a long way to go."

-- Taylor Batten


Tandemfusion said...

Common sense would be a great asset to them, but may be too much to ask. For example, Charlotte now closes all but one security check point at 8:00 pm, due to volume. so far that make sense. But do they leave open the line that can accommodate TSA PreCheck? Common sense would dictate that they the check point they use would be that one, but of course they don't.


Garth Vader said...

ZERO = number of terrorist suspects apprehended by TSA.

Egregore said...

Let's go back to 9/11 for a second. It's been proven that Israeli Mossad was behind it with help from Cheney and dual citizen Jew Chertoff. They have access to everything so how could airport security possibly protect us from Israel and our own government who are willing to kill us to start phony wars? Get a grip on reality people. Al Qaeda is a CIA front organization. We are just consumers to the government and corporations to generate profit. Israel owns everything because they have convinced everyone through phony history that the Holocaust really happened.

Gladys Christabel said...

Pre check program is initiative that makes screening on passengers assessment.Pre check is now avainalble ay 40 Airports around the world.

Tsa Program will allows frequent flyers of participating airlines and sometimes members of us.

TSA Precheck by Airport Intel

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