TSA talks travel security in advance holidays

travel securityThis coming weekend marks the beginning of the holiday travel season and travel security is in the spotlight. With more than 23 million passengers expected at the nation’s airports, the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is showcasing some major changes to airline security.

“TSA has implemented risk-based procedures to further strengthen security while improving the passenger experience whenever possible,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole in a statement. “We are prepared this holiday season to keep passengers safe as they travel to see their loved ones.”

Bringing Baby On Board gets easier
Already in place, kids 12 and younger won’t need to take off their shoes at the screening check points.

“Children themselves, of course, are not terrorists. But we also know that they can be used by terrorists to do bad things, which we’ve seen overseas,” TSA chief John Pistole told Fox News.

Should there be a problem scanning a child, they will be allowed to pass through several times or be checked with trace detection methods, all in consultation with a parent or guardian.

“This is all about risk mitigation, risk management. It’s not risk elimination,” Pistole emphasized, noting that kids are low risk compared adults like the shoe bomber who tried to bring down a jet over the Atlantic a decade ago.

No more peeping TSA officers
Also in place now, in anticipation of the holiday season and in response to complaints, half of the full body scanners are now using new software that replaces the detailed outline of the body with a generic image. Called Advance Imaging Technology (AIT), the technology increases the efficiency of the screening process, is safe for all travelers, and passengers see the same image TSA officers see.

Be careful who you complain to though
In a pilot program at Boston Logan International and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County airports, Behavior Detection Officers have casual conversations with travelers to determine if the traveler should be referred for additional screening at the checkpoint.

Nothing to hide? You might pass through security quicker
Another pilot program prescreens travelers who volunteer information about themselves prior to flying in order to potentially expedite the screening experience. Currently being tested in Atlanta, Detroit, Miami and Dallas/Fort Worth, TSA plans to expand this program to McCarran International, Minneapolis St. Paul International and Los Angeles International airports in the coming months.

Along the same lines but a bit more intense, TSA has designed a new program to expedite screening for airline pilots through positive identification verification, which is currently being tested at Seattle-Tacoma International, Minneapolis-St. Paul International, Chicago O’Hare International, Miami International and Washington Dulles International airports.

“If You See Something, Say Something.”
Not a change but important, TSA reminds travelers to be on guard during the holiday travel season by reporting suspicious activity.

Flickr photo by Inha Leex Hale

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