McCarran Airport Will Not Enlist in Registered Traveler Program

Randall Walker, director of aviation for Clark County, said he's concerned that the Bush administration's Registered Traveler program will fail to create efficiencies at security checkpoints.


A second international airport planned in the Ivanpah Valley isn't expected to open before 2017.

Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, said he hasn't discussed Registered Traveler's potential burdens with Walker or other airport executives. He acknowledged that all registered travelers will "go through some level of screening."

Melendez added that the long-term benefits of Registered Traveler "will not be realized until the program is in full effect." Plus, those advantages will vary by airport, he said.

"Airports have the tools to come up with a proposal and submit it to us," Melendez said. "Whatever the marketplace decides would be an effective tool, airports could come to us with a proposal and we will make decisions based on the proposal."

Melendez added that he is "not aware" of Walker's concerns about longer lines for nonregistered fliers being an issue for other airport executives.

Melendez said Registered Traveler's success would depend on the number of airports willing to offer it. Thus far, according to USA Today, four airports have declined to participate in Registered Traveler, while a dozen more are undecided about joining.

Melendez said he didn't know which airports have said they will not enroll in the program.

USA Today reported that airports in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, San Jose and Indianapolis will start up Registered Traveler in the summer.

Bill Connors, executive director and chief operating officer of the National Business Travel Association in Washington, D.C., said Orlando International Airport's experiences with Registered Traveler shows the promise of the initiative.

Since Orlando International unveiled its privately managed "Clear" program in July, 16,000 fliers have paid $80 each to enroll, Connors said. Participants include travelers who don't live in the Orlando area, but who visit frequently on business and want expedited security check-in when they fly out, Connors said.

Orlando International officials didn't respond to media queries before deadline.

Connors said "proper queue management" would prevent security delays among unregistered travelers. At Orlando International, he said, 10 percent to 12 percent of fliers belong to Registered Traveler, and Registered Traveler uses 6 percent of the airport's checkpoint lanes.

"There are a lot more people going through the Registered Traveler lanes without impacting other lanes," Connors said. "They're disproportionately going through. It's taking more people out of the mix, so nonregistered travelers are getting through faster as well. It's easing the burden on everyone else."

He said the U.S. government's insistence that Registered Traveler efforts nationwide be interoperable will boost the initiative's adoption.

"Just from a competitive standpoint, ports that don't have this will be at a disadvantage," Connors said.

But Walker said he isn't worried about McCarran's ability to compete with other airports.

"Right now, talking to my (industry) colleagues, I don't see a groundswell of people jumping at (Registered Traveler)," he said.



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