TSA tests passenger behavior at Boston airport

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Airport security (Courtesy eyeliam/flickr)

In a pilot program at Boston's Logan International Airport, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers this week officially began engaging passengers in conversation. It's part of a behavior-based screening concept being tested before a possible national rollout.

The idea is for officers to determine through a Q&A; whether an air passenger is exhibiting any suspicious behavior or appears to be trying to hide anything that could be a threat, TSA spokesman Greg Soule tells Budget Travel.

All passengers boarding flights at Logan's Terminal A, which serves Delta, Continental and Alaska Airlines, will have a talk with an officer after they go through the travel document checkpoint, but before they pass through a metal detector or body scanner.

If anything seems odd, the passenger may be flagged for more intensive questioning or screening. In extreme cases a law enforcement officer may be called over, Soule says.

About 70 officers already trained to observe passenger behavior underwent additional training in the new talk screening techniques. Soule says the test program embraces the methods of a number of security and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and elsewhere.

While Israel is most known for questioning passengers and openly employs profiling, Soule says the TSA effort involves all passengers and "no way profiles based on race and ethnicity."

After a 60-day test period in Boston, results will be evaluated to see how the talk screening impacts security and operations and how fast people move through the checkpoint, Soule says (the latter possibly of most concern to harried travelers). After that, the program may be expanded to other airports.

What do you think of this new program? Does it make you feel safer or does it feel like an infringement on your privacy?


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