Secretary Ridge unveils Registered Traveler Pilot Program at Reagan National Airport

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Program designed to enhance security and customer service at the gateway to the nation's capital
National Press Release
Saturday, September 4, 2004

WASHINGTON – In a continued effort to enhance aviation security and ease screening for thousands of travelers, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today expanded operations for the Registered Traveler Pilot Program to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. American Airlines has been selected to partner with TSA at both Reagan National and Boston Logan airports. Similar pilots were launched successfully with other airline partners in Minneapolis (Northwest Airlines) and Los Angeles (United Airlines) in July and in Houston (Continental Airlines) and Boston in August.

"With the continuing success of pilot programs in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Houston and Boston, TSA is demonstrating that the Registered Traveler Pilot Program can improve customer service and enhance our already strong layered system of aviation security," said DHS Secretary Tom Ridge. "This program also provides the Department with a national test bed for state-of-the-art biometric technologies that could provide far reaching benefits for many of the agencies that help to secure our homeland."

Secretary Ridge, officials from Washington Reagan National Airport, American Airlines and TSA, were on hand to demonstrate the new biometric technology.

Each pilot program will last about 90 days at the five selected airports and is intended for frequent flyers on the partnering air carrier. Starting today, approved registered travelers at Reagan National will be directed to a designated checkpoint lane with a Registered Traveler kiosk. At the kiosk, they will provide a fingerprint and iris scan for identity authentication and proceed to the checkpoint for screening. Registered travelers and their carry-on bags will still go through primary screening, but more extensive secondary screening will be largely eliminated.

In August, American Airlines invited its Washington-based American Advantage elite frequent fliers to enroll in the pilot program. Volunteers provided TSA with information, including name, address, phone number and date of birth, along with biometric identifiers. TSA then conducted a security assessment of each volunteer, including analysis of law enforcement and intelligence data sources and a check of outstanding criminal warrants. Approximately 2,000 customers will participate at each of the five test airports.

During the pilot, registered travelers may use the biometric equipment only in their home airport of enrollment. Participation in the pilot program is voluntary and free. Once the pilot is complete, TSA will examine the results and technologies for security and customer service benefits before deciding whether to expand the program to other airports.