[Archive Home][Date Prev][Date Next][Index]
"Fast Pass' Plan Gets Green Light"
Saturday, April 29, 2006
`Fast Pass' Plan Gets Green Light
By James Gilden
The Los Angeles (CA) Times
Tired of standing in endless security lines at airports? For frequent
travelers, it's about to get easier to obtain a "fast pass" through the
The federal Transportation Security Agency announced last week that it was
proceeding with the next phase of its controversial registered traveler
program. It will be in operation at as many as 20 airports by the end of the
year, though just which airports is still to be decided.
The program is designed to allow travelers to receive expedited security
screening through dedicated security lanes at airports after submitting to
background checks, providing biometric data including a fingerprint and eye
scan and paying an annual fee.
Initially conceived in 2002, the program has earned its share of fans and
The agency is vague about exactly how much it will improve security and
travelers' airport experiences. It says that all registered travelers
"should receive an expedited and more convenient checkpoint experience" but
"an element of randomness will also be integrated into [it] to ensure
unpredictability and disrupt potential efforts by terrorists to thwart the
Los Angeles International Airport was one of five nationwide that took part
in a pilot registered traveler program in the summer of 2004. And LAX is
lobbying to become one of the first airports to have the program introduced
on a permanent basis, said airport spokesman Tom Winfrey. He said LAX could
have the program up and running before the end of the year.
At least two frequent fliers who took part in the trial program would like
to see it implemented permanently at LAX and other airports around the
Ron and Gina Calisher are on the road 33 weeks a year for their Huntington
Beach-based company Calisher and Associates, which develops and manages
healthcare facilities. The couple has already flown 50,000 miles
domestically this year. They were among the 2,000 frequent fliers invited to
register at LAX to be a part of the 90-day pilot program in 2004. They used
"We would love for them to expand it," Gina Calisher said. "For people who
travel every week, it makes life extremely pleasurable."
For the Calishers, the program simply formalizes a reality of their travel
lives. They already are recognized by many of the security screeners at LAX
and airports around the country.
After submitting to background checks, the Calishers were issued cards for a
kiosk at a security line for registered travelers only. Their fingerprints
and eye scan data were stored on the card. To get into the line, they
inserted the card and placed a finger on a small reader. The machine beeped
when the card matched the fingerprint, their boarding passes were stamped
and they were on their way.
The registered traveler program does have its foes. Among the most prominent
is the Air Transport Assn., an airline industry trade group. An early
advocate of the program, it now believes that improvements in airport
security procedures and a lack of obvious benefits render the program
"Registered traveler neither offers the benefits to passengers nor the
breadth of use that justify its introduction as a permanent program," James
C. May, president and chief executive of the group, said in testimony before
Congress in February. "It should be eliminated."
On the other hand, not having to remove their shoes is by itself a big
enough incentive for most frequent fliers to sign up for the program, said
Glenn Argenbright, chief executive of Saflink Corp., which makes
identification security products using biometrics and smart cards.
Saflink announced this week a partnership with Microsoft Corp., Expedia
Corporate Travel and Johnson Controls to market a registered traveler
program called FLO to airports. It comes a bit late to the game after the
pilot program, which was administered by Unisys Corp. and Florida-based
Verified Identity Pass.
Verified Identity Pass, which is partnering with Lockheed Martin Corp. and
General Electric Co., has enrolled more than 15,000 travelers at Orlando
International Airport for its registered traveler pilot project there, which
began in June. It is currently the only ongoing registered traveler program.
Argenbright is not concerned with being third into the market, given what he
sees as a potential customer base of as many as 42 million travelers.
Saflink is in talks with airports to provide its program but declined to
name them. Verified Identity Pass has signed agreements with the airports in
San Jose and Indianapolis to run their programs, pending federal approval.
Verified Identity Pass charges travelers $80 a year to participate in its
program, called Clear. Saflink hasn't yet announced the fees associated with
The Transportation Security Agency has mandated that the competing private
companies' systems have interoperability. If, for example, Saflink provides
the systems at LAX, travelers who sign up there would still be able to use
it in Orlando or any other airport with registered traveler, regardless of
which private company is contracted to provide it.
Of the airports being considered, LAX is a good candidate, Argenbright said.
But it might not be until summer that the agency decides which will be among
the 10 to 20 airports to get approval.
Do you have an opinion about this story?
Share it with other readers in our CAA Discussion Forums
Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
If you have any queries regarding this issue, please Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org