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U.S. Travel Association Releases New Aviation Security Blueprint: Will Government Listen?

Locations in this article:  Madrid, Spain

Great Day To Fly - USTA Releases New Aviation Security BlueprintThe U.S. Travel Association (USTA) recently released a report entitled, “A Better Way: Building a World-Class System for Aviation Security,” which outlined some key elements for improving and streamlining air travel today. Why?

Because unnecessary hassles related to the security screening process are costing the U.S. billions in lost travel revenue.

Peter sat down with USTA President Roger Dow to discuss some of the finer points of the proposed plan.

Peter Greenberg: Recently, I was going through security in Madrid and I was reminded how pathetic, wasteful and ineffective security still is. Nothing has really changed that much since Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, and certainly not since 9/11. As I’m checking in for the flight the security guard asked me the three stupidest questions known to man: Did you pack your bags yourself? Yes. Have they been with you all the time? Yes. Has anybody given you anything? No. Even if English is not your fifth language you can figure out how to get around this.

Roger Dow is someone who probably agrees with the stupidity of that and probably wants to change it. In fact his organization recently figured out a great road map to a whole new air travel and security screening program that will not only save time and money, but might actually be effective.

Get the full story on the state of travel security: Analyzing Post-9/11 Travel Safety And Security: Airports, Trains, International Hotels And Beyond

TSA Pat-Down: USTA Offers New Aviation Security BlueprintRoger Dow: You’re much more vitriolic than I can be.

PG: Listen, I’m not exactly shy when it comes to stupidity. Security without intelligence is stupidity and yet we’re paying a lot of money for all this. Your survey, which I found interesting, basically found that people are avoiding trips because they don’t want to go through it. We’re not just talking about foreigners, we’re talking about people in this country. You came up with a figure: It’s costing the industry $85 billion.

RD: We found out that we asked people if the system was predictable, streamlined, and safe, would you take more tips? Yes, they would take two to three more trips, so that’s $85 billion and 900,000 jobs. When people travel, other people go to work.

PG: Exactly, and yet we don’t see a whole lot of stuff changing. The only thing that’s coming back is the CLEAR program. It failed in the last incarnation simply because it was badly managed and the TSA really never really got behind it. And now there is a whole group of investors who are starting it again. If they ever really got their act together I’d get one of those cards.

RD: I think the people that are doing the CLEAR program are outstanding. They’re really taking a great approach to the management this time. They’re not spending frivolous dollars on a lot of perks and extras, which happened to the last managing group. I think it’s going to make some big changes. Plus, that CLEAR card can be used elsewhere in the future, like your hotel check-in for verifying who you are.

Learn more: TSA’s Security Theater And What To Do About It

US Passport - US Travel Association Releases New Aviation Security BlueprintPG: That’s great. There’s another one U.S. Customs has called Global Entry. In concept, I have to love it. It basically means you can go right through the line; not have to stand there and go through the passport stamp. But when I opened up the pamphlet,  it required me to go to the airport and have an interview. Who has time for that?

RD: That’s the challenge. I’ve just myself applied to get one and it’s outstanding when you get it. I get great reports. But you’ve got several steps to go through. They are trying to make it easier. They’re going to companies and enrolling people in mass, but if they can streamline the process it’s a wonderful program.

PG: When you think about it the one thing they should really all be doing is preclearance. You really want to save time and make travel easier and really maintain security parameters? Go to preclearance. We already have it in Canada, in the Bahamas, in Bermuda, and in Shannon, Ireland. When you check in for your flight internationally you also clear U.S. Customs there. So when you land, you’re home.

RD: It is terrific. The big problem is we’ve got to get to a Trusted Traveler program. We have to get to a situation where you and I are trusted travelers. We’re not going to blow up a plane, so we should not be treated like every next traveler is a terrorist. If you want to find a needle in the haystack, you shrink the haystack.

Check out the USTA’s “A Better Way: Building a World-Class System for Aviation Security” here.

By Peter Greenberg for Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio.

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