Registered airline passenger program expanded to Washington

Friday, September 3rd 2004, 11:41 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Washington Reagan National Airport joined four others in a test program that allows air passengers to submit to background checks in exchange for avoiding extra security inspections, the government announced Friday.

The ``registered traveler'' program, urged on the Transportation Security Administration by Congress, provides a special security lane for frequent travelers who've signed up. If they don't set off alarms, they won't be searched a second time.

Transportation Security Administration chief David Stone said 10,000 people have signed up for the test programs at airports in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Houston and Boston.

``We've had customers lining up to register,'' Stone told reporters.

At each airport, frequent fliers sign up with the air carrier chosen by the government. They must submit personal data and biometric information _ in Washington, iris scans and fingerprints _ that are run against law enforcement and intelligence databases.

David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, said long security lines are a key concern for air travelers.

``When they sign up for registered traveler, their expectation is that it will at least cut in half the time that they spend at the checkpoint,'' Stempler said.

Passenger information is stored within the TSA's Office of National Risk Assessment, where access is strictly limited, Stone said.