Transport Airports

U.S. Congress makes it easier for international travelers in transit

Dec 13, 2012 12:23 am

Skift Take

This is one of the few times since the TSA was established that Congress has stepped in to ease restrictions on screenings.

— Jason Clampet

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Passengers arriving in the U.S. from international airports who miss connecting flights because their checked bags have to be rescreened could get some relief under legislation passed Wednesday by the House and sent to the president for his signature.

The “No-Hassle Flying Act” gives the Transportation Security Administration the authority to waive rescreening requirements for flights from international airports that install U.S.-equivalent baggage scanning processes and equipment.

It has yet to be decided which airports will qualify, but a likely starting point will be 14 airports in Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean where the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency already inspects and clears commercial air passengers. Currently, passengers arriving from those airports need not undergo another physical security check upon arriving in the United States, but their bags must still be transported to TSA facilities for screening using explosives detection system equipment before they can board another flight for their next U.S. destination.

“This is a smart, efficient way to streamline travel, boost tourism and lower costs while maintaining the highest security standards,” said Nicholas E. Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America, the trade organization for leading U.S. airlines.

The bill, which the Senate approved two weeks ago, passed the House on a voice vote. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., were the Senate sponsors. Illinois Republican Joe Walsh was the House sponsor.

“Requiring luggage to undergo the exact same screening process twice in one trip puts a burden on both our international aviation security system and travelers,” Klobuchar said.

The bill coincides with the administration’s Beyond the Border initiative, in which the TSA is working to lift rescreening requirements as Canada installs comparable screening equipment.

TSA Administrator John Pistole last May proposed similar legislation to Congress, saying giving his agency more leeway on rescreening “is key to TSA’s ongoing transition to a more risk-based and intelligence-driven counterterrorism posture.”

Copyright (2012) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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