TSA Regulations: 4 New Policies to Know About

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A U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer carries out a physical search on a passenger at a security checkpoint at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey December 29, 2009.
A U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer carries out a physical search on a passenger at a security checkpoint at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey December 29, 2009.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is implementing many new pilot programs that they hope will both create a faster line through security and enhance the safety of all passengers traveling.  

As TSA moves further away from a one-size-fits-all approach, our ultimate goal is to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way possible, TSA Administrator John S. Pistole said in a press release.

PreCheck Program

This program will pre-screen volunteer participants to give accurate risk assessment of each traveler prior to travel. Those selected to meet TSA criteria will then be given a faster security lane with less of the hassles that come with airport security.

Members of the PreCheck program will have a faster security process and should be able to avoid the annoyance of taking off their shoes. They can also leave toiletries and laptops in their carry-on bag. However, those chosen for the program still won't be able to escape being pulled aside for random testing.

By learning more about travelers through information they voluntarily provide, and combining that information with our other layers of security, we can focus more resources on higher-risk and unknown passengers, Pistole added in the press release.

For now, the program is only being tested on domestic flights on Delta and American Airlines at four select airports: Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, and Miami.  If the program proves successful, TSA hopes to expand it to more airlines and airports.

U.S. citizens who are part of Customer and Border Protection's (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs including Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS are also eligible. Those who are members of a CBP Trusted Traveler Program should enter their membership number or PASS ID in the Known Traveler Number field when booking a flight. Passengers who want to join Precheck must sign up for one of the CBP Trusted Traveler programs in order to be selected.

Select frequent flyers of Delta and American Airlines were also asked to opt-in to the program if they provided personal information and travel history.

Those who pass the TSA criteria will not know in advance, even if already a member of CBP Trusted Traveler Program. A bar code will be located on the plane ticket, which will then be scanned by security agents at the first checkpoint.

Behavior-Recognition Program

Some may feel as though they are back in school being quizzed by TSA's new behavior-recognition program. The piloted program trains TSA agents to analyze behavior of passengers when basic questions are asked.

Most passengers will go through a casual conversation of where are you coming from and where have you been that is already standard at most airports when agents check passenger identification.

The agents in most cases are looking for changing story lines, excessive nervousness, and lack of eye contact. Agents take into consideration that many are already on edge in an airport from running late for a flight, leaving family, or otherwise.

This behavior detection program is currently being piloted at Boston's Logan International Airport. TSA hopes to have the program expand to other airports this fall.

Fraudulent Identification Scanner

On Monday, TSA also announced that it will purchase and implement new technology that would be able to better spot fake boarding passes and identification. Passengers won't see the new system until 2012 at select airports.

TSA is planning to spend $3.2 million on the new system called Credential Authentication Technology - Boarding Pass Scanning Systems (CAT-BPSS). TSA hopes that this system, combined with the behavior-recognition program, will enhance travel safety when flying.

Pat-Down Policies

TSA has come under huge fire for their pat-down policies. Most recently, a breast cancer survivor, Lori Dorn, received a humiliating public pat-down at JFK after agents saw a tissue expander on the scanner.  She attempted to retrieve the device identification card from her bag, yet the agent would not allow it.

At what point does the need for security eclipse human dignity and compassion? Dorn wrote on her blog.

TSA has issued an apology for the event and not handling the issue privately. Although TSA has not yet changed their policy towards medical card patients, pat-down policies for children and the elderly have been adjusted.

Children 12 and younger will not be required to remove their shoes, and all other policies will be enacted before a pat-down is required. This includes testing children's hands for explosive powder.

Many parents were previously upset with TSA's pat-down on children as most are teaching about private areas, yet they were getting frisked in inappropriate areas. 

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