Airport Security! If there is one constant for all travelers, it is the realization that an airport visit will most likely be necessary for one to get to their destination. Given this revelation, Travel N Relax felt it was important to call your attention to the many major Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport security changes that will affect your next airport visit. The TSA changes actually begin prior to your airport arrival. Operation Secure Flight requires that airlines gather a passenger’s full name (which will need to match identically to the photo ID you will use at airline check in), date of birth, and gender when making an airline reservation to determine if the passenger is a match to the No Fly or Selectee lists. By providing the additional data elements of gender and date of birth, Secure Flight will more effectively help prevent misidentification of passengers who have similar names to individuals on the watch list. In addition to addressing misidentification, Secure Flight also protects sensitive watch list data and enables officials to address security threats sooner, keeping air travel safer. By implementing one watch list matching system, the program provides a fair and consistent matching process across all airlines.
Airport Security, Once you arrive at the airport, additional changes will be noted at the security check station. Among these:
(1) The puffer machines (glass portals that blew puffs of air on passengers to test for bomb-making particles) will be removed from service because dust and humidity in the airports caused many of them to break down frequently. These will be replaced by the full body X-ray machines that create detailed images of passengers through their clothing. These X-rays provide a crisper image for officers to spot possible weapons one may be carrying, and a crisper image of you. While these machines have created some controversy, be assured that the security officer attending the passenger at the walk through will not be the one looking at your image. The image is in fact viewed by a different officer in a remote location, and the images are never saved or stored. (2) The TSA will now request that your shoes NOT be placed in a bin as has been done in the past. Rather, shoes will now be placed directly on the X-ray machine belt to be examined. TSA representatives note that this allows screeners the ability to get a clearer look at suspect footwear. As always TSA rules and regulations continue to change as the organization works to keep travelers secure. Indeed, as of this writing the U.S. House has postponed debate on a new TSA Bill until after this week’s Memorial Day recess (the Bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate). Among other things, this Bill if passed, would create a biometric airport access enhancement demonstration program with a minimum of seven airports; establish a $10 million program to provide grants to general aviation airports for security upgrades; and create an Aviation Security Advisory Committee with airport participation to advise TSA on issues pertaining to aviation security. Clearly, as this article has demonstrated, there are always things one needs to monitor when it comes to TSA regulations. Be assured that Travel N Relax is continually keeping track of these changes and modifications for you. To that end, we will continue to personally advise our clients on how to best navigate these, and other, airport requirements so that they may minimize the travel hassles others experience during an airport visit. Likewise, for the benefit of all, we will continue to post in this space the important information that will have a major impact on all travelers such as those items that have been noted above.