A Business Travel Coalition survey has found that 82 percent of survey participants want to see the airlines they do business with “embrace” the Registered Traveler program.
BTC surveyed 211 travel industry professionals (randomly selected from its database) over a four-day period in July. The survey was commissioned by Registered Traveler provider FLO (Fast Lane Option).
The survey also found that 80 percent of respondents would pay a $99 registered traveler fee simply for the benefit of access to expedited security lines, while 38 percent they would be “very interested” in paying $199 for an upgraded program that would include benefits beyond quicker security checkpoint processing, such as airport concession discounts or parking privileges.
In an analysis of the survey, BTC Chairman Kevin Mitchell states that by broadening the appeal of Registered Traveler, RT can more quickly reach “critical mass” at the national level. The quicker RT reaches this “critical mass,” argues Mitchell, it can fulfill the Transportation Security Administration’s reason for supporting RT in the first place, moving passengers as quickly as possible into secure areas of airports.
While RT providers believe there is widespread support for Registered Traveler, the Transportation Security Administration seems to be backing away from the program. On Capitol Hill this week, Transportation Security Administration Administrator Kip Hawley told a House Committee on Homeland Security panel that TSA believes RT “is not now an effective operational tool” against terrorists and that TSA has “decided that taxpayer resources are best applied to more critical needs than Registered Traveler.”
“Once we define [a] trusted [traveler], that provides a blueprint for vulnerability,” Hawley told the panel. “And the security risk introduced at RT becomes a risk for every passenger, because what we make easy for one becomes easy for many.”
Even though RT is a privately operated program, it relies on TSA to qualify RT providers and approve RT procedures and equipment, such as shoe-scanning technology.
In his testimony before the Homeland Security panel, Steve Brill, CEO of RT provider Verified Identity Pass, sharply criticized the TSA for failing to support Registered Traveler.
“[F]or whatever reason, TSA and DHS have not allowed RT to become what it can and should become,” Brill testified. “To the contrary, it seems that at almost every turn, decisions that threaten to undermine RT have been made by the TSA Threat Assessment and Credentialing Office. That’s the office also responsible for TWIC and Secure Flight. Perhaps the folks in charge there don’t want to see a private-sector program flourish while those government programs remain unfulfilled.”