Your entire flight experience just might become a little bit more enjoyable in the future, thanks to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). According to CNN, the latest TSA security screening update might mean less airport lines: the TSA is considering eliminating passenger screening entirely at over 150 small and medium-sized airports across the country. So unless you're flying at a major hub, you might just get to keep your shoes on entirely, and skip that long security line altogether.
The new change has been proposed by senior agency officials, and will represent an almost exactly-opposite approach to airline safety since the Sept. 11 attacks. But before you start planning to fulfill your dream of showing up to the airport less than an hour before your flight takes off, you might want to take a breather: critics of the plan say it could increase security threats in the name of saving $115 million annually for the government.
Glen Win, the former chief security officer for United, said of the proposal to PA Homepage, "I find that unbelievable, totally beyond comprehension. [Terrorists] will just begin their plans immediately."
CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank isn't so sure that this idea would be worth it in the long run, and actually called the proposal "stunning that it was even seriously being considered."
Al Qaeda and ISIS still regard aviation as a priority target -- that includes aircraft where you have fewer than 60 people on board. They would see that as a way to hit the headlines. They would see that as a way to inflict severe economic damage on the United States. If you have an aircraft of 50 or so people being blown out of the sky there is going to be a great amount of panic and there will indeed be significant economic reverberations, and of course significant loss of life.
CNN reports that the TSA currently screens passengers at 440 airports, but considered pulling back on those screenings as early as 2011. The argument by the TSA for potentially doing this pullback would come down to numbers: the policy change would affect approximately 0.5 percent of people who are flying out of U.S. airports on any given day, a microscopic percentage for over $100 million in screening expenditures.
According to Juliette Kayyem, a CNN analyst, the TSA would be misinterpreting the notion of terrorism by stripping airports of screening measures. "People, weapons, dangerous goods and what's boarding the plane are all potential risks," she said to CNN. "TSA is falling into the trap that this is just about terror. A gun could be brought on board too."
Though it probably feels like the TSA has been in your life forever, it's actually a relatively young institution, having been established in 2001 following the Sept. 11 attacks. If these new security measure rollbacks due take place, it'll be a pretty shocking turnaround from the general mantra of the TSA, which has prioritized ever-increasing security measures to match the advancement of technology.
For now, you'll just have to take your shoes off.