Traveler identity verification programs may take the place of pat-downs and body scans if a program currently being tested by the Transportation Security Administration is successful.
Last year's introduction of body-scanning software allowing security agents to see beneath travelers' clothes led to the TSA being widely criticized for going too far in its screening efforts. A YouTube video posting of a 6-year-old being frisked at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport last month reignited the criticism. "The policy of only reacting and adding more stuff is a losing game," Bob Poole, director of transportation policy for the Reason Foundation, told USA Today. "No security system is going to guarantee 100 percent, but we need to grow up and level with the American people." According to the news source, the global airline trade group International Air Transport Association and the U.S. Travel Association recently proposed dividing travelers into three risk-based categories at checkpoints. Those who voluntarily underwent extensive background screening
will be placed in an expedited lane that would still require them to walk through a scanning machine, but remove laborious requirements, such as unpacking their laptop and taking off their shoes. A 2010 Global Business Travel Association study found that more than 70 percent of travelers surveyed indicated they would be willing to pay for the screening program in exchange for faster checkpoint passage. Potential security risks would have to undergo more thorough screening that may include pat-downs and full-body scans. The TSA said approximately 3 percent of passengers are currently asked to undergo secondary screening, according to The Wall Street Journal. Travelers who did not sign up for the background check
but do not present a significant risk will be directed to a checkpoint that operates much like those of today, except the line is likely to be shorter with the removal of high-risk and trusted travelers. The GBTA called the proposal "a thoughtful first step towards updating aviation security." Although trial aspects are set to be rolled out this summer, the program could take years to be fully implemented, according to The Wall Street Journal. Last year, as part of its efforts to streamline the airport experience, the agency released an application and mobile website for travelers to look up wait times for security checkpoints before they arrive. The app allows users to submit their own real-time updates, as well as offering packing tips and a list of approved items that can be brought on the plane in carry-on luggage.