Kudos to TSA Administrator John Pistole for holding a press conference at Reagan National Airport Tuesday about the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel period that is less than a week away. We have widely supported TSA’s risk-based security initiatives and I applaud the agency for proactively sharing how these initiatives help ensure, as he put it yesterday, “…effective security in the most efficient way.” Also that travelers should check the TSA website to make sure they understand the rules for liquids, aerosols and gels in their carry-on bags.
I will be doing the same thing on behalf of the nation’s airports early next week through a series of TV and radio interviews. I’ll use those forums to discuss how airports are preparing for the high volume of anticipated traffic and inform the public about what they can expect at airports this holiday season. America’s airports are prepared to meet the needs of holiday travelers and airports want passengers to have a great experience regardless of whether it’s Thanksgiving, the December holiday season, or any day of the year. The main message is to be prepared – check the airport, airline and TSA website to make sure you have all relevant information. Also to pack your patience!
Airports are complex environments, with airlines, federal agencies, concessionaires and airport staff all responsible for different things. But everyone is working together to make the travel experience safe, secure and whenever possible, convenient for passengers not only during the holidays, but throughout the year.
A key part of making the passenger experience enjoyable is reducing the wait time at the security checkpoint line or for processing international arriving passengers by CBP. The key to success is for TSA and CBP to have adequate staffing to handle the millions of passengers who will travel not only during the holiday season but all year round. We are already experiencing problems at international airports so I am concerned about what might happen if Congress and the President don’t address the looming sequestration threat. I am not alone – lots of people are concerned about the cuts we could see early in the new year. Administrator Pistole was asked a question about that on Tuesday and he responded that “…the bottom line is to keep the frontline security operations in full force, to keep the movement of people and goods moving smoothly.”
Earlier in the press conference he emphasized how PreCheck and technology are helping to increase efficiency. In facilitation we have Global Entry and pilot programs for Automated Border Control. But there is more that needs to be done. We also need better recognition that airports are a key driver of our economy, responsible for 8 percent of U.S. GDP and an estimated 7 percent of jobs. They are critical for our global competitiveness.