Faster Low-Risk Airport Passenger Screening Considered

Aviation and Airport Security: Terrorism and Safety Concerns, Second Edition
Expedited airport passenger screening measures for low-risk travellers are under development, according to new comments made by a TSA representative on 18 May 2011.

Addressing US airport officials, Transport Security Administration spokesperson John Pistole explained that the US government is looking at various options that would allow passengers that are not considered a threat to airport security to be screened more rapidly.

The research follows complaints, made by travellers, over how long it takes to progress through security checks at airports in the US. These complaints have been especially common since the advent of full body-scanning technologies and extensive pat-downs, both introduced after the Christmas Day 2009 mid-air explosion attempt.
Low-Risk Passenger Screening

In the future, it’s possible that non-suspicious, ‘safe’ passengers could have their own queuing line, according to Pistole, who explained that low-risk passenger screening is “something we’re working on in a number of ways.”

Two months ago, the US Travel Association - a pre-eminent travel industry organisation - recommended that the US government implement a trusted traveller programme and advocated that airlines should adopt a free-single-bag policy for passengers, too. Both would effectively speed up the whole passenger screening process and, furthermore, encourage more people to fly, too, it said.
Faster Airport Passenger Screening

“I will be the first to admit that our system is not without shortcomings”, Pistole told officials yesterday, adding: “clearly, the system is not without flaws.”One advantage of a change to faster airport passenger screening would be that screeners could refocus their efforts and their time more intensely on high-risk passengers, he explained, however.

Stressing that the present airport security methods used did have a vital role in today’s world, Pistole concluded that the US remains at threat from terrorists, or would-be terrorists. That’s especially true within the context of Osama Bin Laden’s death at the start of May, and the potential for follow-up militant retaliation.

Meanwhile, in related news, a number of scientists have written a letter to the TSA, questioning the safety element of the full-body scanners now in place at numerous US airports. In particular, they’re concerned about the potential for exposure to radiation.

“There’s no real data on these machines, and in fact, the best guess of the dose is much, much higher than certainly what the public thinks”, one scientist stated, in the letter.