TSA Considers Eliminating Security Checks at Small Airports

TSA PreCheck

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File this under “Crazy, reckless ideas that will almost certainly never see the light of day.” TSA is reportedly considering axing passenger security screening at some of the nation’s smaller airports. According to CNN, draft proposal suggests removing screening at more than 150 airports where jets with 60 seats or fewer fly.

On one hand, these passengers could be screened after arriving at larger airports that are better equipped for this screening. And of course, the motivation is saving money: $115 million each year, according to the TSA. Those savings could then be funneled into improving security at larger airports.

No one loves going through security. It’s one of the great pains of air travel, though thankfully services like TSA PreCheck and CLEAR make it relatively painless. And it’s true that the majority of travelers flying from these smaller airports connect onward.

However, broadcasting a gaping hole in your security oversight isn’t exactly a wise move. So security experts were understandably not thrilled with the concept.


TSA Security

Image courtesy of tsa.gov


“Al Qaeda and ISIS still regard aviation as a priority target — that includes aircraft where you have fewer than 60 people on board,” CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said. Cruickshank added that it was “stunning that this is even seriously being considered.”

But just how seriously TSA is considering this is unclear. The idea of stopping security screening at small airports had apparently been explored back in 2011. This time around, it’s the product of a working group of 20 TSA employees. An internal memo obtained by CNN concludes with no formal recommendation on how the agency should proceed.

And those documents even point out that stopping security checks at small airports could be problematic. It could trigger a “small (non-zero) undesirable increase in risk related to additional adversary opportunity.”


Our Analysis

To reiterate: This won’t happen. The security concerns are too great for the TSA to abandon 150-plus airports, even if passengers can get screened later on. The backlash from this story all but seals this proposal’s fate as dead on arrival.

What’s more, this proposal seems to be more of a routine examination of the TSA’s security procedures rather than a real push to decrease passenger screenings. But apparently, some people at the TSA believe their resources are better spent monitoring everyday citizens with little oversight than performing standard security checks.


Bottom Line

If you hoped to skip security checkpoints on your next trip through a small airport, we wouldn’t bet on it. The idea of eliminating some security checks lost whatever steam it had the moment CNN published this story.


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Lead Photo credit of cnn.com

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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