New TSA Screening Program: Agency Working to Enhance Pre-Flight Screening Practices

New TSA Screening Program: TSA Working to Enhance Pre-Flight Screening Practices

AP File

The Transportation Security Administration announced Thursday a pilot program to enhance the agency's pre-flight screening capabilities and expedite screening for trusted travelers.

"These improvements will enable our officers to focus their efforts on higher risk areas," TSA Administrator John Pistole said in the press release. "Enhancing identity-based screening is another common sense step in the right direction as we continue to strengthen overall security, and improve the passenger experience whenever possible."

The initiative, which is set to begin in the fall, will call upon partnerships with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. air carriers to test enhancements to pre-flight, identity-based screening procedures.

Those who can participate include certain frequent fliers and certain members of the Trusted Traveler programs like Global Entry, SENTRI and NEXUS that are American citizens. Participants could qualify for expedited screening at select U.S. airports.

That applies to: Trusted Travelers and Delta Air Lines frequent fliers taking a Delta flight at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County and Trusted Travelers and American Airlines frequent fliers taking an American flight at Miami International and Dallas Fort Worth International.

It is anticipated that between 5,000 and 8,000 travelers will take part in the free, voluntary trial, said the Associated Press.

Plans are in the works to expand the program to other airports and include carriers United Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue, US Airways, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines.

However, Pistole does not want passengers to forget there are many layers to airport security. He told the media that the TSA will keep up with "random and unpredictable" security measures and that other efforts include "intelligence gathering and analysis, explosive-detection canine teams, federal air marshals, closed-circuit television monitoring and behavior detection officers," according to the release.

This new effort comes at a time when it seems the TSA just can't get a break.

It seems that not a day goes by without someone making news for speaking and acting out against what they see as unfair and invasive practices by the TSA. Former MTV-VJ Susie Castillo took to the internet to vent about not wanting to be radiated on by screening machines. A Tennessee mom was cuffed and thrown in jail for protesting the TSA's screening of her daughter this week. And, there was that Texas bill banning invasive patdowns that was shot down.

But, not everyone thinks the TSA's procedures are wrong. Whoopi Goldberg called TSA patdowns necessary.

Of course, Pistole continues to defend his agency's efforts, though he has also said the TSA would work to make patdowns less invasive and that there would be no more private screeners.

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