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USTA recommends improvements in air security

WASHINGTON — The U.S Travel Association and a panel of travel and security experts have released proposals to improve security at America’s airports while reducing the burden on travelers, including the creation of a trusted traveler program and a requirement that travelers be allowed to check at least one bag at no additional cost to reduce the amount of luggage going through the security checkpoint.

The recommendations, the culmination of a yearlong process, call on Congress to take the lead in improving the current system through effective policy decisions.

“The country that put a man on the moon, invented the Internet and creates daily innovations in manufacturing can and must do better in screening passengers and improving our air travel experience,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.

The blue-ribbon panel was chaired by former Department of Homeland Security Secretary (DHS) Tom Ridge, former Congressman Jim Turner and Sam Gilliland, president and chief executive officer of Sabre Holdings.

Among the panel’s recommendations:
• Implement a risk-based trusted traveler program

• Improve preparation of travelers

• Encourage fewer carry-on bags, with the Department of Transportation issuing regulations requiring airlines to allow passengers one checked bag as part of their base airfare and standardize existing rules covering the quantity and size of items that can be carried onto an airplane

• Give the Transportation Security Administration authority over the entire checkpoint area

• Develop a comprehensive technology procurement strategy

• Implement well-defined risk management processes

According to a 2010 survey conducted by Consensus Research, American travelers would take an additional two to three flights per year if the hassles in security screening system were eliminated. These additional flights would add nearly $85 billion in consumer spending and 900,000 jobs to the American economy.

According to the same research, a large majority of Americans consider today’s security screening system to be “inconsistent,” “stressful” and “embarrassing.”

To download the complete report, visit www.ustravel.org/betterway.

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