US adds faster traveler screening to more airports

BOSTON Wed Feb 8, 2012 1:19pm EST

BOSTON Feb 8 (Reuters) - A pilot program that moves passengers through pre-flight security screening more quickly if they volunteer information about themselves in advance is set to expand to 28 of the nation's busiest airports, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The expedited screening program will grow throughout 2012 from seven pilot locations to all three major airports in the New York City area, the three in the Washington, D.C., area and others including Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Denver, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said.

Certain frequent flyers and people enrolled in the Customs and Border Protection's Trusted Traveler programs may no longer have to take off their shoes, pull laptops from cases and remove belts and coats when passing through security, the TSA said.

To date, more than 336,000 travelers have passed through the expedited screening lanes tested at airports in Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Detroit, it said.

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have been participating at certain pilot locations, the TSA said, and US Airways, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines will join the operations later this year.

Passengers eligible for the expedited screening will have already been vetted and have information embedded in the barcode of their boarding passes, which might trigger the TSA to send them to an alternate security lane.

The TSA said the program is a way to make airport security more "intelligence-driven" rather than a "one-size-fits-all approach" to assessing passenger risk.

The TSA has come under pressure to tailor airport security screening to focus on higher risks, particularly after complaints last year that young children and the elderly were being unnecessarily scrutinized.

No passenger, however, is guaranteed expedited screening, the TSA said, and random security measures will remain throughout the airport.

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