WASHINGTON — Testing for a new program aimed at getting certain travelers through airport security with less hassle is expanding to airports in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Minneapolis and St. Paul over the next few months, the government said Wednesday.
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The expansion will not have an effect on travelers during the busy Thanksgiving travel season. But it shows that the government has seen positive results in the first round of testing for the Obama administration's attempt at moving toward a more intelligence-driven security check at airports. Many people have said the government doesn't use common sense when it screens all travelers the same way.
Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole said he hopes to eventually test the program at all airports and with all airlines around the country, but that might take a few years. Pistole testified Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Currently the program is being tested at airports in Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit and Miami. Eligible travelers are those who participate in American and Delta airlines' frequent flier programs as well as travelers who are part of three other trusted traveler programs who travel through these airports. These people volunteer more information about themselves so that the government can vet them before they arrive at airport security checkpoints.
The program works this way: If a traveler is participating, he or she will go to a dedicated lane in the airport at the security checkpoints. The traveler will provide the TSA officer with a boarding pass that has information about his or her vetted and trusted status embedded in the barcode. A machine will read the barcode, and if the traveler is deemed part of a "low-risk" category, he or she will likely be able to keep on belts, shoes and jackets and leave laptops and liquids in bags when going through the screening process, Pistole explained.
"At no point is a traveler guaranteed expedited screening," Pistole said. "We don't want terrorists gaming the system."
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