New Efforts to Improve Airport Safety

Airport security and travel safety is a concern for many frequent flyers. Here are some of the latest security-related news items from the TSA and FAA.

TSA announces new tech to speed up security lines

In late July, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it plans to implement new technology that should speed up airport security screening lines by up to 30 percent.

The automated screening system was developed in partnership with American Airlines, which is contributing $5 million to the project, and will be introduced by the end of 2016 at four of the country’s largest airports: Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles International and Miami International.

The automated system consists of screening belts that deploy bins that are 25 percent larger than the bins used in regular screening lanes, saving travelers time, reports Travel Weekly. Bags that require extra scrutiny are diverted automatically so that bins behind can continue through the system. Another benefit: Radio frequency tags are attached to each bin, increasing the accountability of items as they go through the belt.

Two such belts are already in use in partnership with Delta— who reportedly invested $1 million in the project—at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and the TSA says they have enhanced security, in addition to reducing traveler wait times by about 30 percent.

Another TSA initiative called computed tomography (CT) would enable passengers to leave liquids, gels, aerosols and laptops in their carry-on bags. This technology is currently being used by the TSA at some airports to screen checked bags, including Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.


FAA bill to improve security and airport experience

In the wake of attacks here and around the world, the Senate recently approved a bipartisan aviation bill by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to increase airport security, as well as improve the overall customer experience for travelers at airports.

One of the most important aspects of the bill calls for increasing security personnel and K-9s outside of security perimeters to help ensure that unsecure areas of the airport where people are vulnerable are better protected. The bill would also improve the vetting process of all airport workers and employees with access to secure areas, and requires security assessments of all overseas airports serving the U.S.

Frequent flyers will also be happy to read that the bill requires airlines to refund paid baggage fees within 24 hours when items are lost or unreasonably delayed.

Additional efforts will be made to improve air travel for people with disabilities and ensure that children 13 years of age and younger are seated next to an adult or older child traveling with them.

The bill will also make it easier for trusted travelers to join the TSA paid PreCheck program offered to trusted travelers who are allowed to go through faster security screening lanes at airports. The TSA also plans to market PreCheck better so more people can find out about it.

The bill funds FAA programs for another 14 months and is now waiting for President Obama’s signature.