Kip Hawley, head of the Transportation Security Administration, told the Senate Commerce Committee last week that plans for a nationwide Registered Traveler program are “on track” and that he expects it to be up and running by June of this year.
While organizations such as the National Business Travel Association and the Business Travel Coalition continue to pledge support for Registered Traveler, other organizations have become disenchanted with the program.
James May, president and CEO of the Air Transport Association of America, told committee members Registered Traveler has “turned into a shifting and dispiriting exercise. It compels you to ask, ‘Where’s the beef?’”
Calling it an orphan program that TSA has “lateraled off” to the private sector, May testified that his group is “unaware of any evidence that Registered Traveler will produce the tangible and widely available benefits to passengers” that ATA envisioned when the program was launched in 2002.
May said there is no evidence Registered Traveler will attract a large number of participants, enhance security, cut wait times, or satisfactorily address privacy issues, adding, “We, however, do know that what was originally conceived as a straightforward governmental program to benefit the vast majority of passengers has been transformed into a commercial enterprise for what increasingly looks like the few.”
Bill Connors, executive director and chief operating officer of the NBTA, said his organization would continue to support Registered Traveler as long as it’s completely voluntary, saves time while not slowing down security checks for nonparticipants, is interoperable among participating airports, and protects privacy rights.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said his committee would hold another hearing on the Registered Travelers program in May.