Now for Airline ID's-greenspun.com : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread
Thought this was a different angle on this topic. restriction of travel...hmmm. Got your papers?
ID cards proposed for air travelers
Industry pushes for system; Guard troops may watch airports
From Journal Sentinel wire reports
Last Updated: Nov. 8, 2001
The airline industry on Thursday formally called for a massive screening system that would subject passengers to intensive background checks, providing a boost to one of the more controversial security ideas under discussion since Sept. 11.
Under the Air Transport Association proposal, all reservations would be checked against a new government database that would include arrest records, intelligence information, immigration files and financial data. This master database, constantly updated, would be used to identify individuals who would merit closer screening at the airport.
Other industry moves Thursday and word that President Bush will announce a beefed-up National Guard presence at the nation's airports were designed to soothe fears as the holiday travel season approaches.
Clearly, the steps taken so far have done little to allay the public's concern amid highly publicized security lapses and government warnings of terrorist attacks. Also, there has been little movement so far on a bill in Congress to overhaul airport security. House and Senate negotiators remained deadlocked over whether federal employees should be used to screen baggage.
Air traffic was off 25% through October despite deep fare reductions, and the annual American Automobile Association survey for Thanksgiving travel forecast a 27% decline.
The cut-rate fares and drastically lower passenger loads are draining airlines of their cash, prompting concern that several carriers could be in bankruptcy as early as January.
'Trusted traveler' cards
Among the airline industry proposals Thursday was a new "trusted traveler" identification card, which would be issued to pre-screened passengers willing to undergo extensive personal background checks. These travelers would be sent to airport checkpoints with less-intensive screening, allowing them fewer delays.
The ideas are not new, but their endorsement by the ATA, representing 26 passenger and cargo airlines, puts them at the center of the debate over how the American aviation system can be made less vulnerable to terrorism.
Such proposals reflect a sentiment among some in government and transportation circles that airline travel should become less of a right, open to anyone who can afford a ticket, and more of a privilege, extended to those who can prove they are not a threat.
"Any new aviation security system must dramatically change its current orientation from looking primarily at things to looking at people," said Carol Hallett, president of the ATA, during a news conference.
"Things are carry-on bags, checked bags and so forth. . . . We need to know the passenger."
Such proposals have been anathema to civil libertarians, who have succeeded in quashing them in the past. But the ATA endorsement and public horror over the Sept. 11 attacks have reinvigorated their proponents.
While not commenting on the specifics of the industry plan, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, said the general idea was sound.
Aviation security bills being debated on Capitol Hill require passenger reservations to be checked against law-enforcement databases, but leave the specifics of which lists to check up to the Bush administration. The House-passed version authorizes the Transportation Department to explore the feasibility of a trusted traveler plan.
The database program could be similar to the one used in Israel, whose airports are considered the most secure in the world; the reservations database for El Al, the national airline, automatically checks passengers against Israeli intelligence records.
U.S. officials have pointed out that several of the Sept. 11 hijackers were on a "watch list" of individuals deemed a threat to U.S. security. That list, however, was not shared with the airlines.
Consumers Union, which publishes the magazine Consumer Reports and regularly monitors the travel industry, said it is concerned that the industry plan may not prove workable.
"Our concern is that this could become a massive database of information on consumers," said spokesman David Butler. "How would this information be used beyond its stated purpose?"
Doors to be redesigned
Hallett also announced that 14 major airlines have finished reinforcing cockpit doors.
The fortifications, completed two months ahead of schedule, generally involve installing a heavy metal brace behind the cockpit door. The reinforcements are temporary, until the Federal Aviation Administration sets specifications for redesigned "hardened" cockpits.
"This is so crucial as we go into the holiday season," Hallett said. "Americans can have full confidence that these aspects with respect to strengthening the cockpit door have been fulfilled."
Northwest Airlines and Midwest Express, the two top carriers at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, both completed work on the doors by the third week of October.
"At this point, we consider any suggestion as on the table," Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said from the airline's headquarters in Minneapolis. "Our customers want to know their flying experience will be secure and that it will be convenient."
Midwest Express is seeking a federal grant for a $150,000 project that would involve installing video cameras so pilots can view the cabin from the cockpit.
Other safety measures already are in place or being discussed.
Transportation Department and FAA officials acknowledged that pilots flying into Reagan National Airport must recite a password before air traffic controllers can clear them to land. Unless they hear the password, which is changed daily, controllers divert the planes to Dulles International Airport.
Passengers under scrutiny
Bush's plan for a beefed-up National Guard presence would give airports and airlines an additional measure of security by having guardsmen watch passengers who have been checked through security and are in the process of boarding aircraft.
Wisconsin was one of the first states in the country to deploy National Guard troops to airports in September. Airport officials in Milwaukee said Thursday the troops already in place have helped reassure travelers.
"We will continue to support any action that makes flying safe and people secure," said Pat Rowe, a spokeswoman at Mitchell International Airport.
However, the idea of using guardsmen to screen travelers drew a skeptical response from David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, an advocacy group.
"I don't know what part they have to play in the security process other than to have a show of force," he said.
This article was compiled from reports by Jason Gertzen and Dave Umhoefer of the Journal Sentinel staff, the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press and Washington Post.
Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Nov. 9, 2001.
-- Doreen (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 09, 2001
Think about how much OIL would not be burnt up if there were a lot less fricken' planes flying..........wish full thinking!
-- Jim-mi (email@example.com), November 09, 2001.
Hey, I heard on the radio today that Bush has spoken out against this....Yeah!!!!
-- Doreen (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 11, 2001.