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by Michael J. Shapiro | March 16, 2011
The U.S. Travel Association today will release a comprehensive plan to reform the air security process, based on the findings of the Blue Ribbon Panel for Frictionless Air Security it created one year ago. Chaired by former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former U.S. Representative Jim Turner and Sabre Holdings president and CEO Sam Gilliland, the panel also includes former DHS and TSA officials, as well as representatives from the airline, airport, logistics, security technology, destination and travel sectors. The final report, entitled "A Better Way: Building a World Class System for Aviation Security," lays the groundwork for overhauling today's approach. Three primary goals are addressed: to improve the TSA checkpoint by increasing efficiency, decreasing passenger wait times and screening passengers based on risk; to generate greater governmental efficiency and cooperation in executing its security responsibilities; and to restructure the country's approach to aviation security using risk management methods and tools. Primary among the group's recommendations is the development of a federal trusted traveler program, a voluntary, government-run program that would aim to focus resources on more high-risk passengers. Other recommendations include encouraging fewer carry-on bags by requiring airlines to allow one free checked bag; reducing duplicative TSA screening for international arrivals; and giving TSA authority over the entire checkpoint area. "The country that put a man on the moon, invented the Internet and creates daily innovations in manufacturing can and must do better in screening passengers and improving our air travel experience," said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow in a statement. "Air travel is the gateway to commerce and an improved experience is directly tied to job creation and a stronger economy." To download the complete report, visit ustravel.org/betterway.