Changes are coming to U.S airport security checkpoints:
The Transportation Security Administration recently announced plans to begin testing an identity verification program to let airline crews bypass the controversial full-body scanners and extra-thorough pat-down searches at airports.
The proposed program, TSA officials say, should — to a degree — speed up airport security lines for regular passengers by diverting the nation’s more than 100,000 pilots and flight attendants through a separate screening process.
I don’t know about you, but I am rarely bothered by flight crews cutting in line. It does happen, but even when it does, they know what to do and are usually in and out–a whole flight crew takes less time than a young couple with a child. I don’t think this move is going to cut much time off from security lines.
As for making this new security process secure:
Details of the proposed system have yet to be worked out, but TSA officials say they plan to hook into airline employee databases and confirm the identities of pilots and flight attendants using biometric measures such as retina scans and fingerprint matching.
If I had to go through retina scans and fingerprint matching, I would hope that would be it for screening–no additional bag checks and metal detectors. It continues to amaze me that flight crews have to endure security while airport ground personnel can quickly bypass security by walking through a couple doors behind the check-in desks.
Seriously, during my SFO United tour I got to do that myself–I walked out into the check-in lobby then soon walked right back in through a side door, totally bypassing the TSA. I suppose I could have smuggled in a gun or knife (or even worse, a bottle of water more than 3.5 ounces), but hats off to UA for trusting us. I continue to question the need for obtrusive airport security and will continue to argue that full body scanners and "enhanced" pat downs are pure security theatre.
The next logical step, as has been floated before, would be a trusted travelers program where passengers could also go through background checks in order to face traditional metal detectors instead of the proliferating peep machines (that I even ran into in Hamburg last week…).
I remain uncomfortable having to go through an extensive background check in order to more freely move by air within my country, but after opting-out a couple times on my last trip, I am sick of the whole TSA game and may just be swayed to go for the background check–especially if Global Entry and NEXUS was part of the package.
But don’t worry: I’ll continue to fight the TSA beast.