New Air Passenger Screening: Round 3

The U.S. is finally figuring out how to screen flight passengers without compromising the privacy of its citizens. The Associated Press reports that a “new” and simpler program, called “Secure Flight,” was introduced recently to improve security and keep terrorists off airplanes.

The solution? Passengers must give their full names when booking a flight, whether it be online or by phone. Not only that, but they are also asked to agree to a confirmation of their age and gender in order to reduce the chance of a false match with names on the watch lists.

Hasn’t this always happened? Not only do I give my full name when I book a flight, I also show my i.d. a bazillion times as I check my bags, pass security, and board my flight. But according to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, airlines are passing along their manifests after flights have left, rendering a lot of those i.d.-checking measures a waste of time.

It makes me wonder — if asking for my name, gender, and birth date when I fly is a “new” security tactic, what were the old tactics? If these measures are “simpler,” what other measures will they do away with? With all the flight delays happening, it would be nice not to spend an hour in a security line. But I have little hope of this happening any time soon.