Daily Breeze

Sept. 25, 2002

LAX testing plan to cut searches

Copley News Service

WASHINGTON — A terminal at Los Angeles International Airport is
becoming a proving ground for the possible elimination of random
passenger checks at departure gates.<P>

The Transportation Security Administration will conduct all passenger identification checks and “enhanced security screening” in Terminal 4 at the main checkpoint area outside the concourse, eliminating the secondary gate checks, the agency said Tuesday. Passengers will have to obtain boarding passes before going to the checkpoint.

The process also is being tested at Long Beach Municipal Airport.

The TSA would like to phase out the random gate checks nationwide by early next year and the pilot programs are being conducted “to ensure that it’s feasible,” a spokeswoman for the agency said.<P>

The checks — which involve hand searching carry-on bags and inspecting shoes — were instituted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

They have drawn the ire of some passengers who consider them a nuisance and complaints from some racial and ethnic groups who feel they are targeted more frequently for searches.

James Loy, the new head of the TSA, has called them “hassle checks.” But he also said recently that passenger screeners “are still finding things in the random gate screening that encourage us to keep going at the moment.”

Airlines have been pressing the TSA to reduce security-related
inconveniences. Loy is viewed as more attuned to their concerns than his predecessor, John Magaw, who was forced out of the job in July.

American Airlines is working with the agency on the test at LAX and
JetBlue Airways is participating in Long Beach.<P>

“We . . . firmly believe there is a more efficient way to ensure the
safety of our passengers,” American Chairman Don Carty said in a written statement released by the TSA.

Lydia H. Kennard, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, the authority that oversees LAX, expressed support for Loy’s “efforts to strike an appropriate balance between much-needed aviation security and passenger convenience.”