At the invitation of DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, last week, Airports Council International – North America staff met with the Secretary and TSA Administrator Kip Hawley to discuss the security benefits of the Registered Traveler Program.
Secretary Chertoff engaged in a discussion and dialogue with the assembled group regarding this matter which included high-level DHS and TSA officials and representatives from AAAE, ATA, and RT service providers (Clear, FLO, and Vigilant).
ACI-NA staff outlined the main points supporting our position on RT:
· Implementation of RT is an airport-by-airport management decision driven by the specific circumstances at an airport;
· RT service at an airport should not in any way diminish the service quality and efficiency of the regular screening checkpoints; and
· Our organization – ACI-NA – serves as a forum for airports, RT providers and other interested stakeholders to share information regarding the RT program.
Secretary Chertoff responded with his own views that the security value of RT was identification (ID) validation of travelers as a precondition to their participation – a requirement that is important both now and as our nation’s security regime evolves.
Looking forward, Secretary Chertoff, Administrator Hawley and the RT vendors also discussed creating an RT card that would effectively be “REAL ID” compliant and help further enhance RT’s security value. There was general agreement on what the card would include (card holder’s picture, name, date of birth and gender) — the only area of contention was how to handle the expiration date, which remains for further discussion between the TSA and vendors. Another idea that was floated was ending the current TSA requirement that RT members must show two IDs (their RT card and another form of ID such as a driver’s license) every time they enter the line.
Secretary Chertoff also recognized the technological opportunities presented by the RT program to develop screening technologies that could eventually extend beyond the program to use in the overall passenger screening system.
Also of note is that Secretary Chertoff limited the discussion at this meeting to the US domestic RT Program, and did not discuss the matter of an international RT program that would be under the purview of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Overall, the discussion was engaging and informative and showed a solid step forward for implementing the RT program in a way that improves convenience for participating travelers while also adds security and technological benefits for the nation’s airports.