Following recent reports that the TSA might cut back on passenger screening at smaller airports, the agency has declared it will, in fact, continue screening procedures after all. It could, however, expand the use of screening dogs in some airports.
As for the removal of screenings: “We’re not doing that. Real simple,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske told USA Today. “We looked at that and decided that was not an issue worth pursuing. Off the table.”
Pekoske told USA Today that TSA examined the option of closing checkpoints as a budgetary maneuver, but decided the risks weren’t worth any potential benefits.
The idea involved removing TSA screening from airports served by planes seating up to 60 passengers. Travelers and luggage departing those airports would be screened if and when they connected through a larger airport. The change would have saved around $115 million, but internal documents acknowledged an increase in risk.
Needless to say, the idea was widely criticized for being dangerous, contrary to the TSA’s mission, and widely out of step with the agency’s typical approach to security. We’ll never know how seriously the TSA considered the idea, but this public response suggests someone heard the criticism, at least.
One change you might see? More canine screenings. Pekoske said dogs are highly effective at sniffing out explosives and other substances, and travelers may see an increase in the use of canine screening.
He said that passengers who are screened by dogs are often put into the TSA PreCheck lane, but “we’re going to look at the potential of having a dedicated lane for canine-screened passengers. It would be a quicker lane than the standard lane.” He said the dogs have proven their ability to identify potential high-risk passengers, which would allow TSA to accelerate the process for travelers who don’t trigger a reaction from the dogs.
Readers, are you glad the TSA came to its senses on this idea? Or do you think it would be worthwhile to pull back the screening process a little?