tampabay.com

Proposal could ease airline screening hassles

Associated Press
Published August 14, 2005


WASHINGTON - The federal agency in charge of aviation security is considering changes in how it screens airline passengers, including proposals that an official said would lift the ban on carrying razor blades and small knives as well as limit pat-down searches.

The Transportation Security Administration will meet later this month to discuss the plan, which is designed to reduce checkpoint hassles for the nation's 2-million passengers. It comes after TSA's new head, Edmund S. "Kip" Hawley, called for a review to make airline screening more passenger-friendly.

An initial set of staff recommendations drafted Aug. 5 also proposes that passengers no longer have to routinely remove their shoes during security checks. Instead, only passengers who set off metal detectors, are flagged by a computer screening system or look "reasonably suspicious" would be asked to do so, a TSA official said Saturday.

"The process is designed to stimulate creative thinking and challenge conventional beliefs," said Mark Hatfield, TSA spokesman.

The Aug. 5 memo recommends reducing pat-downs. It also suggests exempting several categories of passengers from screening, including federal judges, members of Congress, Cabinet members, state governors, high-ranking military officers and those with high-level security clearances.