US Airport Secure Flight Passenger Checks Begin

A Week at the Airport
A new airport security initiative has now started to be introduced to flight sites in the US by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). The Secure Flight programme involves acquiring passenger data to compare it to known terror suspect lists and, overall, passenger using airports in the US have welcomed its arrival.

The introduction of Secure Flight comes just days after the printer cartridge bombs incident - which has now resulted in tighter air cargo security measures being put in place – but it is not directly related to it.

Rather, Secure Flight represents a response to the 9/11 terror attacks. Privacy concerns have delayed its roll-out, until now.

Secure Flight Checks

Speaking to passengers at JFK International Airport, news agency Reuters gauged that, overall, the Secure Flight checks had their approval. “These things are probably necessary”, one said. “Terrorists are still trying to attack, and that needs to be made difficult for them.” Trade organisations have spoken up, too, stressing that the biggest airlines already question people in this way and, so, the air travel process will be little changed for bona fide passengers.

Secure Flight demands that airlines obtain a certain level of information about the passengers that will be flying with them, specifically their full name, their date of birth and whether they are male or female. Names, in particular, have to be stated exactly as they are written on passports or other identification documents, although minor discrepancies, like initials of middle names, will be permitted for the time being. This applies to all flights arriving at, or departing, airports across the United States.

US Airport Passenger Checks

The goal of the US airport passenger checks is to keep air travel free of known terror suspects and, on the flipside, to ensure passengers that are entitled to travel can do so, without being wrongly interrogated. Passengers that supply insufficient data will not be issued with boarding passes – ultimately making airlines directly responsible for their passenger quota. At the end of last week, a package was found to contain explosive material, but only after a second round of airport security checks had been carried out on it.

The episode served to highlight how aspects of air travel remain vulnerable to attack and, now, safeguards have been put in place to try and stop future events of this kind.