Group recommends TSA create 'trusted traveler' program

The panel that performed the study for the Travel Association was chaired by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who was the first person to hold that position after its creation in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks. Former Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas), who was a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, joined Ridge.

Both Ridge and Dow said Wednesday that it was necessary to make big changes to airport security.

“A strong aviation security screening system must feature several characteristics, including efficient methods of deterring and interdicting terrorists and criminals; tailored security based upon risk assessment; frequent, clear communication with the traveling public; and cost-effective use of resources,” Ridge said in a statement.

“Dramatic policy shifts undermine the ability of our nation to create a secure and efficient aviation system, and demonstrate a lack of a long-term vision for aviation security,” Dow added. “TSA and its officers often bear unjustified public criticism for simply carrying out the ever-changing policies set by Congress and an unwillingness to date to embrace risk management. If this pattern is to change, Congress must set the tone and take on the responsibility of improving the current system." 

The study, “A Better Way: Building a World Class System for Aviation Security," also recommended forcing airlines to allow travelers to check one bag free of charge as the amount of carry-on luggage has increased since fees for checked bags have been implemented. 

At least one transportation group, the Air Transport Association of America (ATA), was not in favor the recommendations.

"Consumers have been the big winners from a quasi deregulated, highly competitive airline industry, and government taking a huge step backward and dictating how airlines deliver and price their products and services, as the USTA suggests, diminishes customer choice and competitive differentiation among carriers," the group said in a statement late Wednesday morning. "Such a move benefits no one and unfortunately detracts from important aspects of their recommendations.”

The full report can be downloaded here.