AKAKA APPLAUDS TSA’s LAUNCH OF PASSENGER PRE-SCREENING PROGRAM AT HONOLULU AIRPORT

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee member Senator Daniel K. Akaka today applauded the expansion of TSA Pre?(tm), a passenger pre-screening initiative, to Honolulu International Airport following the program's success at several pilot locations on the mainland.

"This program will help frequent travelers who pass through security all the time get where they are going with less waiting and fewer hassles, while allowing TSA to focus on larger threats," said Senator Akaka.  "I urged TSA Administrator John Pistole to bring this program to Hawaii at a Homeland Security hearing last November, and I am pleased it is now coming to Honolulu.  I hope the program will be a success and will be extended to all airlines and checkpoints at the Honolulu airport as the program expands nationally."

Senator Akaka questioned Administrator Pistole about this program expanding to Hawaii at a hearing on November 2, 2011:

According to the TSA, Pre?(tm) enhances security by enabling screeners to focus efforts on passengers the agency knows less about while providing expedited screening for travelers who volunteer information about themselves prior to flying.  Eligible participants include certain frequent flyers from participating airlines as well as members of Customs and Border Protection's Trusted Traveler programs who are U.S. citizens and fly on a participating airline. Individuals interested in participating in the pilot can apply via Global Entry at http://www.globalentry.gov/.

If TSA determines a passenger is eligible for expedited screening following the TSA Pre?(tm) vetting process, information will be embedded in the barcode of the passenger's boarding pass. TSA will read the barcode at the security checkpoint and then may refer the passenger to a TSA Pre?(tm) lane, where they will undergo expedited screening, which could include no longer removing the following items: shoes, 3-1-1 compliant bag with liquids from carry-on, laptop from bag, light outerwear/jacket, and belt.  TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening.

Transcript of November 2, 2011 hearing:
SENATOR AKAKA:  Because Hawaii is located 2,500 miles from the mainland, we have of course unique transportation needs. Hawaii residents and our many visitors rely heavily on air transportation when traveling between islands and also to the mainland or even abroad. Although protecting the public is our primary goal, we must ensure that security procedures and technologies safeguard privacy rights and are not so burdensome that they discourage air travel.

I applaud the federal employees who have worked tirelessly to secure our commercial aviation system since September 11, 2001. As we approach the busy holiday travel season, I hope this hearing will allow us to review whether the workforce has the tools they need to meet today's security challenges.

Administrator Pistole, your testimony mentioned that TSA is in the first phase of the Expedited Passenger Screening pilot. I understand that Honolulu Airport, Hawaiian Airlines are being considered for the second phase of the pilot. In Hawaii many people who take frequent short flights between our islands could benefit from the expedited security procedures.

My question to you is, how are the decisions being made about which additional airports and airlines will be selected for the second phase of the pilot. And when will those selections be announced?

ADMINISTRATOR PISTOLE:  Well thank you Senator Akaka and thank you for your support for federal employees. Clearly the goal is to move out as quickly and efficiently as possible. There are a number of variables that we are working through.  And those include things such as the airline's capability. Their information technology systems. Because the way this Expedited Traveler if you want, TSA Pre-Check works is that we take information that is embedded on the barcode of the boarding pass, which the airlines of course produce.

And so it shows up in that barcode as the person is a known or trusted traveler if you will. Several airlines are going through mergers right now and so their systems, they are waiting until those systems are merged as opposed to having disparate systems that don't talk and then trying to merge those into a new one. So those will be after the first of the year.

So that's one criteria, is the airline ready, capable and all that? The second is the airports themselves and the configuration of the checkpoint is a key aspect. One of the goals of this is to have a dedicated lane for those known trusted frequent travelers such as in global entry or these elite tiers and others that we will look at down the road.

So they can go to a dedicated lane. They can be identified through that barcode on the boarding pass and then we can have a separate screening lane for them where they keep a light jacket on, the keep a belt on, they keep their shoes on, they keep the laptop in the briefcase.  They keep their liquids, aerosol gels in their checked bag their carry-on bag.

And again keeping random and unpredictable as part of that. So to directly answer the question, there are a number of airports and airlines that we are working with to try to get to that point.  So I wanted to manage expectations as best I can and say, there's been no decisions made.  I'm waiting on a presentation for that second round, if you will.  I will say that I met with the CO of one of the major airlines going through a merger here, the week before last and they are committed to doing it in the first quarter of 2012.

And so we will use one of the very largest airports in the country as the basis for that airline, that merged airline probably in the February/March timeframe. So as soon as we get some additional information, we'll get back with you on that.

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