No surprise: The TSA has officially ruled out a proposal to axe security screening at 150 of the nation’s smallest airports. The idea first surfaced last week, after CNN obtained a drafted proposal suggesting it could eliminate security checks at airports where jets with 60 or fewer seats fly. These passengers could instead be screened at larger airports, saving the federal government $115 million each year.
However, it would also broadcast a massive weakness in the nation’s airport screening. Security experts roundly rejected the idea as dangerous and ludicrous. At the time, we called it crazy, reckless and said it was never going to happen. After some backlash, it appears the administrator of the TSA agrees.
“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 explained that the proposal was essentially a budget exercise as the agency explored how to save some cash.
No one likes going through airport security – it’s one of the worst parts about air travel. So this no doubt would have been alluring to some travelers from small airports. And the savings could have been funneled back into other airports to improve security. However, this wasn’t the first time the idea had been explored. The agency reportedly studied removing screenings at small airports as recently as 2011.
And the risks were crystal clear from the start. Even the TSA employees studying the idea concluded it could trigger a “small (non-zero) undesirable increase in risk related to additional adversary opportunity.”
“We looked at it and said the benefits that it would present are not worth the risks it would introduce and we just decided not to pursue,” Pekoskie said.
A week actually feels like a long time for this idea to have been shot down. Considering the immediate backlash, we expected the TSA to rule it out sooner. Still, this is no surprise. Our apologies if you were counting on an easier trip through your small hometown airport.
Lead Photo credit of cnn.com