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With the Choice of Dropping TSA will Airports Make the Switch?

I hate TSA.

I know that I am not alone in that sentiment.  I think it is one of the biggest wastes of money in the federal government.  The quality of the product borders on ridiculous.  There are the well documented cases of not being allowed to take a cupcake through because it has too much “gel” in the form of frosting, and the obvious removal of shoes, jackets, and who knows what else in the future.  Of course there is also all of the uproar over full body scanners that can easily be seen as an invasion of privacy.

Beyond the well documented accounts, we all have experiences of forgetting a knife or some other weapon in our bag that gets completely missed.  I even had one friend who had forgotten two knives, but only one was found by the screeners.

An article in the New York Times made me aware of something that many people may not realize: since TSA was created in 2001 airports have been allowed to request permission to replace federal screeners.  To this point only 16 airports have been given permission to make the switch, but others are beginning to consider the option despite TSA saying they will no longer accept applications last year.

In response to that decision by TSA, Representative John L. Mica, Republican of Florida, included a provision in aviation legislation that strengthens the ability of airports to switch to private screeners which passed in February.  Mica represents the district that includes the Orlando Sanford Airport that is anxiously trying to switch to private screeners.

According to the above mentioned article, the committee that supported the provision estimated that  if the 35 biggest airports in the country switched to private screeners, the government would save $1 billion over five years.  I wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers were inflated to prove their point, but everyone agrees that private screeners are cheaper than TSA.

In an economy, and aviation industry, where every dollar counts, how can this not become a more viable option for the nation’s airports?  The answer is TSA being unwilling to give up their monopoly.  If they are forced to compete against private companies that have to operate efficiently, they will have to change the way they operate.  They will no longer be able to waste millions of dollars on useless purchases like changing the color of shirt their employees wear, and that is awesome.

If this provision does nothing more than force TSA to operate more efficiently and effectively, then it is one of the best bills I have heard about in recent memory.  Here’s hoping that airports are actually able to have the screeners they want to have without any unnecessary hoops to jump through from the government, but what are the odds of that happening?

What is your take on the value of TSA over private screeners?

March 26, 2012 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Airport Executives Seek to Expand Trusted Traveler Program Beyond Elite Fliers

February 14, 2012 Alexandria, VA — The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) — the world’s largest airport organization, representing thousands of men and women across the country who manage and operate the nation’s airports — pledged its support today in working collaboratively with the Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection to grow the PreCheck trusted traveler program to accommodate additional fliers as quickly as possible.

“Airport executives long have advocated for the adoption of a robust, nationwide trusted traveler program to better identify and scrutinize potential threats while improving passengers’ experiences at the airport,” AAAE President Chip Barclay said.  “The recent announcement by TSA that the agency intends to bring its PreCheck trusted traveler program on-line quickly at additional airports is welcome news, and airport executives are eager to play an active role in the successful deployment of the program at their facilities.

“Airport executives anticipate great success with the PreCheck program and recognize that the next challenge will be moving from a largely airline-centric program in operation at a handful of airports to one that is operational for large numbers of travelers at airport facilities across the country,” Barclay added.  “Airport operators are uniquely situated and qualified to play a key role in assisting TSA in efficiently and effectively growing participation in PreCheck or a similar trusted traveler program.”

Barclay noted that over the past decade, AAAE and individual airports have worked closely with TSA and the technology community to implement specific programs, including Registered Traveler (RT).  In roughly one year, the RT program enrolled more than 250,000 travelers at 24 airports, proving the security and efficiency benefits that adoption of these programs provides.

PreCheck in its current form is available only to certain elite travelers on specific airlines and participants in the CBP Global Entry program. Barclay said that airport executives would like to see the program expanded to accommodate as many additional travelers as possible in an airport-centric, community-based effort.  Barclay added that while airline-based programs and Global Entry are good avenues in enrolling qualified participants, additional efforts will be needed to accommodate a broader range of qualified travelers — a goal that airports, the traveling public, and the government share.

Additional views from AAAE were outlined in a letter sent today to TSA Administrator John Pistole and CBP Acting Commissioner David Aguilar, which can be viewed here.

“Airports are confident that in partnership with TSA they can help facilitate the deployment of a robust trusted/known traveler program that focuses on enhanced security above all else in addition to expediting the travel experience,”  Barclay said.  “We are eager to work with Administrator Pistole and his team to make the promises of PreCheck a reality for a broad range of qualified travelers at airports across the country.”

ABOUT AAAE

Founded in 1928, AAAE (www.aaae.org) is the world’s largest professional organization representing the men and women who work at public-use commercial and general aviation airports. AAAE’s 5,000-plus members represent some 850 airports and hundreds of companies and organizations that support the airport industry. Headquartered in Alexandria, Va., AAAE serves its membership through results-oriented representation in Washington, D.C., and delivers a wide range of industry services and professional development opportunities, including training, conferences, and a highly respected accreditation program.

February 14, 2012 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.