Flight attendants will soon get the same expedited screening at airport checkpoints available to airline pilots, the Transportation Security Administration said Monday.
According to an article from CNN, the move is part of TSA Administrator John Pistole’s move for risk-based security, speeding up screening of known low-risk passengers while allowing the TSA to focus on unknown travelers.
The move is also intended to reduce checkpoint congestion while improving security, as participating flight attendants will be allowed to display credentials instead of undergoing physical screening. When at a checkpoint, CNN says, the attendant’s credentials will be checked against an up-to-date database of program participants.
They will still be subject to random, unpredictable searches.
There are 90,000 flight attendants in the U.S., and in May, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security instructed the TSA to include them in the Known Crewmember program, CNN reports. Attendants will be eligible if they work for U.S. airlines that participate in the program and are flying from U.S. airports.
Flight attendants have been arguing for the same treatment as pilots for quite some time, as they undergo identical background checks and are entrusted with access to the cockpit, the article says.
The program will also eliminate flight attendants’ “uncomfortable” practice of jumping to the head of the security line so they can make their flights on time.
The TSA has been phasing in the program for pilots, and nearly 1.4 million pilots have been screened at checkpoints under the new system, CNN reports. The TSA expects it could take up to 12 months for airlines and their service providers to make the necessary system modifications to fully implement this new change.
However, flight attendants could begin expedited screening as early as this fall, and it could be implemented at more than 30 airports by the end of 2012.