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Tag Archives: business travel

Faster security screening soon a reality for some fliers

Starting this fall, long airport security lines could be a thing of the past for some eligible frequent travelers.

The Transportation Security Administration on Thursday outlined plans to roll out a pilot system in coming months that would allow select air travelers to qualify for expedited screening.

Initially, only Delta Air Lines passengers flying through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County airports and American Airlines passengers traveling through Miami International and Dallas Fort Worth International airports will be eligible. Some members of U.S. “trusted traveler” programs — Global Entry, SENTRI and NEXUS — will also be eligible.

TSA will extend the program to include other major U.S. carriers — United, Southwest, JetBlue, US Airways and Alaska — as well as other airports when ready.

“These improvements will enable our officers to focus their efforts on higher risk areas,” TSA Administrator John Pistole told a group of aviation stakeholders. “Enhancing identity-based screening is another common sense step in the right direction as we continue to strengthen overall security and improve the passenger experience whenever possible.”

TSA and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection are partnering to run the program. The two agencies, along with airlines, will determine eligible travelers. Selected travelers must be U.S. citizens and must agree to supply additional information about themselves.

The U.S. Travel Association applauded the announcement. “While this program will be limited at the outset, it is a strong start. We look forward to working with TSA to move our nation’s air travel security away from today’s one-size-fits-all approach,” Roger Dow, president and CEO of group, said in a statement.

News of the pilot program came on the heels of a government report showing vulnerabilities at U.S. airports, including more than 25,000 security breaches over the past 10 years.

Currently, travelers who want expedited screening have limited options. CLEAR, a company that provides biometric identity verification, offers a fee-based subscription where travelers can supply background information and get a biometric card that allows them to bypass security lines. CLEAR’s service is currently offered at Denver International and Orlando International airports, though CLEAR President J. Bennet Waters says the company is negotiating to expand into other airports.

TSA’s pilot program is an important, giant step in what is likely going to be a lengthy process, Waters told

In a statement, he added: “We strongly support TSA’s vision to focus more on identifying bad people, not just finding bad objects.”

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Joe Myxter has been running’s Travel section since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @joemyxter.

Airlines fight prospect of higher security fees

U.S. airlines are fighting the prospect of sharply higher passenger security fees that could be part of any deficit-reduction plan.

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The approach is among a handful involving aviation that have swirled around the ever-changing complexion of efforts by Congress and the White House to avert a debt default.

While those proposals would cover only a fraction of any deficit remedy, they represent flashpoints in relations between industry and government over aviation policy.

Business aircraft manufacturers, the powerful private pilot and aircraft owners association and, now, the biggest commercial airlines have in recent days aggressively lobbied issues around the debt talks that would affect their members.

According to sources with knowledge of the talks and documents circulating on Capitol Hill, a proposal would double the security fee paid by airline passengers to raise at least $15 billion over 10 years. The current maximum fee imposed on commercial flights is $10 per round-trip ticket.

Nicholas Calio, who as president of the Air Transport Association is the top lobbyist for commercial carriers, said any increase in security fees that would bump up ticket prices would be unacceptable.

“We should advance a tax policy that encourages air service to grow, not contract. Airlines are critical to the nation’s economic health,” he said.

U.S. homeland security officials said they would not speculate on the composition of debt negotiations.

Other proposals that have been discussed would impose a $25 fee for each commercial and private aircraft departure.

Negotiators have also floated the possibility of matching the depreciation schedule of corporate jets to the longer schedule that commercial airlines use. This may become one avenue for closing tax loopholes where Democrats and Republicans could find common ground.

Security fees long an issue

Previous proposals by President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush to increase air security fees paid by passengers were not embraced by lawmakers, who would have to approve such a change.

Those fees, which have never gone up, were imposed at the creation of government-run airport passenger and bag screening following the September 11, 2001 hijack attacks.

They currently cover less than 40 percent, or roughly $1.8 billion, of Homeland Security Department costs for aviation security operations, including screening passengers and bags for weapons and bombs at U.S. airports. The remaining amount comes from a general congressional appropriation.

Sources assume the amount of security spending would not change under a fee-increase scheme. Any additional fees paid by passengers would supplant the percentage of general tax receipts now devoted annually to aviation security. That appropriation would then go toward deficit reduction.

Industry believes airport security charges are part of what it calls an excessive menu of taxes and fees that eat into profits. Those total about 20 percent of a typical $300 round-trip ticket.

Robert Mann of R.W. Mann Co, a former airline executive and now a consultant, said a security-fee increase could sap travel demand and impact all carriers. The change would be felt most by low-fare airlines which mainly serve leisure customers especially sensitive to increases in the cost of travel.

Airlines argue that aviation security costs are a national security interest that should be borne by government. They are also urging lawmakers in their lobbying to consider the impact higher fees could have on the industry’s fragile recovery.

United Continental Holdings Inc and US Airways Group Inc posted weaker profits last week, hit by skyrocketing fuel costs amid a murky outlook for demand. The parent of American Airlines, AMR Corp, reported a larger-than-expected loss.

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

Paris is for cheating executives

Apparently, business isn’t all that gets done when executives visit Paris. Reuters reports that it’s also a hot spot for extramarital flings.

According to Reuters, a dating website for extramarital affairs called recently conducted a survey on where in Europe is best to have a fling while on a business trip.

Paris was the top choice, with more than half of business travelers surveyed choosing the city of light for infidelity.

Other popular spots for cheating on your spouse or partner while on a business trip included Milan, Barcelona and Brussels.

The website surveyed nearly 1,000, 30- to 55-year-olds who are in fixed relationships and say they make more than $70,000 a year.