WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Authority announced Wednesday it will begin a registered traveler program aimed at speeding frequent fliers through security checks this summer.
The pilot program,which will last nine months,will begin in June at 12 of the country's busiest airports,including Boston Logan,Dallas Love Field,Ronald Reagan Washington National and Palm Beach.
As part of the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II,the registry would benefit travelers willing to pay a fee and submit to biometric identification,which could include fingerprints or retinal scans.
TSA also announced at a Capitol Hill committee hearing that a preliminary integrated watch list will be in place by March 31 to better assist federal agencies in targeting potential terrorists.
The current CAPPS system,regulated by the airlines,screens about 1.8 million passengers daily of which 300,000 are flagged for additional screening. CAPPS II would reduce that number to about 75,000 because the system contains more information and should generate fewer alerts.
“Hundreds of millions of Americans who travel by air each year are currently subjected to a passenger screening that lacks common sense,” said Rep. John Mica,R-Fla.,chair of the House subcommittee on aviation. “There's something seriously wrong when we have a system that confiscates wedding cake knives and takes scissors away from little old ladies.”
CAPPS II would centralize airline passenger information and government data and analyses under federal rule.
However,the TSA is having a difficult time gathering passenger information from airlines due to concerns over privacy and legal issues.
Under CAPPS II,airlines and computer reservation systems would be required to supply passenger name record data,which includes full name,home address,home phone number and date of birth for all passengers.
TSA insists that the information would be used only for passenger identification and would remain in its database for only a short period after the passenger's flight.
“There is an inherent goodness to CAPPS II that I believe will shine through,” said David M. Stone,acting administrator of the CAPPS II program for the TSA.