Airport screening to get more personal

August 12, 2009 11:28:09 AM PDT
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today that beginning August 15 U.S. airlines participating in the Secure Flight passenger vetting program may begin asking passengers to enter their date of birth and gender when making airline reservations. TSA has already begun to phase the airlines into the Secure Flight program and will complete domestic implementation by early 2010. If a passenger is not prompted to provide this additional information by a particular airline, they should not be concerned as it will not impact their travel. Since Secure Flight is a behind the scenes watch list matching process that happens before passengers arrive at the airport, current security checkpoint procedures remain the same.

This is the second publicly noticeable step in implementing the Secure Flight program which shifts pre-departure watch list matching responsibilities from individual airlines to TSA. The first public phase began on May 15 when airlines began asking passengers to provide their name ? as it appears on the government issued identification they will be traveling with ? when making airline reservations.

"Secure Flight is a key tool in confirming that someone identified as a ?No Fly? does not receive a boarding pass," said TSA Acting Administrator Gale Rossides. "Secure Flight will make travel safer and easier for passengers."

Once Secure Flight's advanced technology is fully implemented for domestic flights in early 2010, enhanced watch list matching will be done by TSA. Airlines or travel agencies acting on their behalf will gather a passenger's name, date of birth and gender when making an airline reservation to determine if the passenger is a match to the No Fly or Selectee lists. By providing the additional data elements of gender and date of birth, Secure Flight will more effectively help prevent misidentification of passengers who have similar names to individuals on a watch list and better identify individuals that may pose a threat to aviation.

Individuals requesting access to secure areas in U.S. airports to assist a passenger to the gate will also be asked to provide their full name, date of birth and gender when requesting a gate pass from the airline ticket agent.

The Secure Flight program satisfies a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, congressional requirements from the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, and the 9/11 Commission Act signed into law in 2007.

TSA's goal is to vet 100 percent of passengers on all domestic commercial flights by early 2010 and 100 percent of passengers on all international commercial flights into, out of, or over the U.S. by the end of 2010.

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