By Quentin Fottrell
The Transportation Security Administration is moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach to airport screening. John S. Pistole, TSA administrator, is intent on gradually changing the current system, which could mean a future where some passengers go through a kind of “first-class” security procedure. Imagine this: no frisking, no scanners and no fussing about with your laptop.
Tired of having to take their shoes off or put their carry-on liquids in 3.4 ounce bottles and clear plastic bags, some passengers are clamoring for change. What the TSA hasn’t said is whether it would consider asking passengers to pay for a more streamlined experience. (The TSA declined to comment on that.)
However, the TSA tells Pay Dirt that it’s developing additional ways to further incorporate “identity-based security” into its procedures to strengthen security on board commercial aircraft, while improving the screening experience, but in a way that terrorists can’t game the system.
Last month, Pistole gave a speech entitled “Transportation Security Ten Years After 9/11 And Ten Years From Now,” in which he said the agency was making good progress in developing a “truly risk-based, intelligence-driven organization in every way” to direct resources at higher-risk passengers.
He wants to speed the plough for the 628 million airline passengers screened per year: “I believe what we’re working on will provide better security by more effectively deploying our resources, while also improving passengers’ travel experiences by potentially streamlining the screening experience for many people,” he said.
In the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden, Pistole also spoke to Thursday’s The Wall Street Journal about “trusted travelers” being allowed to keep their shoes and even avoid body scanners by using their frequent-flier data. “We think we can improve the process and focus more on people we know nothing about,” he said.
James Carafano, security consultant at the conservative Heritage Foundation think-tank, says he too would like streamlined airport security: “Is the inconvenience and the cost really worth it? No. What really makes everyone safe is getting the terrorist before they get near the airplane. I’d pay $10, $20, even $50 to avoid it.”