Archive | 6:53 am

Throw Pilots A Frickin’ (Security) Bone

11 Aug

I am a regular reader of Wired magazine online and a big fan of their aviation/airline coverage.  But an article — Airline Pilots Allowed to Dodge Security Screening — published yesterday had me shaking my head.  I know that as journalists, we tend to write headlines we think will capture those all-important eyeballs that help pay the mortgage (see my headline for this post, for example).

crewPASS in operation at BWI Airport (Photo by Benet J. Wilson)

But from the headline to the basis of the story, I have to take issue with Wired.  It seems to be taking issue with a new Transportation Security Administration pilot program – Known Crewmember – that lets pilots bypass screening and just show their credentials.

I don’t have a problem with this.  I actually wrote about a similar program — crewPASS — in my old Aviation Week Towers and Tarmacs blog that was tested (and is still in effect) at BWI Airport.

CrewPASS is actually good for the traveling public, John Prater, president of ALPA, told me back in July 2008. “Airline pilots have already been vetted, with an FBI background check, fingerprints and are given an ID. We’re now entered into a database where we can be verified by TSA,” he said.

None of us was brought up to be rude, said Prater. “None of us likes to cut in front of passengers who may have been standing in line for five minutes or 35 minutes, but the fact is, we’re on very tight time schedules,” he explained. “Many have crew duty limits, so TSA had allowed crew members to go to head of passenger security lines. This new system will take that frustration away, improve the security and will actually help passengers get through the screening line quicker. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

I agree.  I always let crew members go ahead of me at airport security checkpoints, but I’m still amazed at how rude some travelers are when these folks who help keep our flights safe and running on time cut in front of them.  So why can’t we throw them a frickin’ bone and allow them to use a system that is proven secure, helps cut pilot line-cutting and helps all of us get through security faster.

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