Nov. 8--Wait times at security checkpoints could shrink by summer if the Transportation Security Administration moves forward with a plan to put frequent travelers on a list that would allow them to get through security checkpoints quicker.
--Date of birth.
--Social Security numbers at some locations.
--Government-issued identification card.
--Fingerprint, iris scan.
At a pilot location in Orlando, Fla., travelers pay about $80 for the preferred passenger status.
The Registered Traveler program, which has been tested in Minneapolis-St. Paul; Los Angeles; Houston Intercontinental; Boston and Washington Reagan National Airport, would allow travelers to pay a fee to be put on a list of security-cleared passengers. Travelers would submit a finger print and a scan of their iris as part of the program. A sixth trial is ongoing in Orlando, Fla., where a private company is administering it for agency.
Officials with agency say they hope to begin offering a special traveler list by summer, but it could take a while for individual airports to come on line.
In Oklahoma City, a line for passengers with security clearance would require additional space and personnel, said Karen Carney, spokeswoman for Will Rogers World Airport.
As the airport undergoes a $110 million face lift, only one security checkpoint is open and space for additional lines is limited. A second security checkpoint is not expected to open until late spring, Carney said.
"To look at this now would be a challenge for us," Carney said. "To dedicate one lane and keep it staffed would also be kind of a challenge."
Cuts in federal spending have eliminated some of the safety administration's security screener jobs at Will Rogers, making staffing levels a major concern when discussing the Registered Traveler program.
"We were one of the airports where our numbers were higher than what headquarters would like to have," said Kim Wagner, stakeholder manager and customer service manager with the safety administration in Oklahoma City. Employee numbers have dwindled because of attrition, not layoffs, she said.
Last week Kip Hawley, assistant secretary of the agency, told a congressional committee that instituting the program would be good for the security of U.S. airports because it would allow screeners to concentrate on people who might be a safety threat and make air travel easier for frequent travelers.
While the final details of how the program would work still are being hashed out, officials say airports probably will get a contract with a private company to keep the data on passengers and the agency will issue the basic requirements, said Andrea McCauley, agency spokeswoman.
A June 20 start date has been proposed. Frequent travelers in Oklahoma City expressed interest in a traveler's list during pilot programs at other cities a few months ago.
"We've had calls from people asking if they could sign up," Carney said. "There's is definitely an interest in doing this."
Under the registered traveler program, people who submit to background checks and provide some form of biometric identification like a fingerprint would not have to go through extra security checks.
A nationwide program - if it becomes optional - has strong support from organizations representing airline passengers.
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.
The test program would use private contractors to load luggage into explosive-detection machines.