TSA begins testing pilots-only security lines



Enlarge By Nam Y. Huh, AP

The concept of letting the nation's 75,000 pilots avoid being screened for weapons has drawn criticism from the Association of Flight Attendants, which says it is safer to screen everyone boarding an airplane.





Yahoo! Buzz Digg Newsvine Reddit FacebookWhat's this?By Thomas Frank, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Air travelers may soon be spared the annoyance of airline pilots cutting in front of them at security checkpoints.
The Transportation Security Administration today begins testing a new program that lets pilots go to a separate checkpoint where a screener checks ID cards but does no physical search.

"It will definitely be a benefit to passengers not having to see someone cut in line," said Capt. John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association.

The TSA is starting 60-day tests of the pilots-only checkpoints at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Pittsburgh International Airport and Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina. The program could expand to other airports if the test shows that pilots can get through checkpoints quickly, TSA assistant administrator John Sammon said.

The concept of letting the nation's 75,000 pilots avoid being screened for weapons has drawn criticism from the Association of Flight Attendants, which says it is safer to screen everyone boarding an airplane.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Congress | South Carolina | Idaho | Transportation Security Administration | Air Line Pilots Association | IDs | Association of Flight Attendants | Pittsburgh International Airport | Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport | John Sammon | Capt. John Prater
Prater said the system will improve security by checking pilot IDs to verify that the ID-holder is a pilot and not someone using a stolen or forged airline ID. A TSA screener will check each ID card against a database of all pilots and match the photo on the card with the database photo, Sammon said.

Prater said searching pilots for weapons isn't necessary because "pilots are already in the cockpit. They don't need anything else with them" to destroy an airplane.

Sammon said a separate pilots-only checkpoint could speed security lines for passengers and make those checkpoints calmer.

Mike Flack, director of the Columbia airport, said he expects the system will speed things up. "I don't see any downside to it," Flack said. "I don't see any loss to security."

The system was mandated by Congress, which passed a broad anti-terror law last summer requiring the TSA to give flight crews "expedited access through screening."



Join AFGE Today

BECOME A MEMBER

Vote 2018

Fight Back the EOs

AFGE Events

Event Calendar is for Members Only. Please Log In to see our calendar of events.

LOG IN!

SUBSCRIBE Latest news & info