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Advance Security Check Pilot Program Begins in Twin Cities

June 28, 2004

Advance Security Check Pilot Program Begins in Twin Cities
June 28, 2004 – According to USAToday, a select group of frequent flyers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will be the first to participate in a 90-day pilot program that allows them to bypass extra security inspections.

Only frequent fliers contacted by Northwest Airlines are eligible to participate upon passing background checks. Northwest spokesman Thomas Becher said 1,600 people had expressed interest as of Friday, and only 30 of those contacted were not interested.

"Clearly, it’s in our interest and our passengers’ interest to make air travel a more efficient experience," he said.

The Transportation Security Administration announced earlier this month that the program would begin at the Twin Cities airport before expanding to Boston, Los Angeles, Houston and Washington. They hope to sign up 2,000 people and would expand the program nationally based on the tests results and funding, spokesman Mark Hatfield said.

Participants in the program must give the government their name, address, phone number, birth date and "biometric identifiers," including fingerprint and iris scan. That information will be matched against law enforcement and intelligence databases such as the terrorist watch list.

Participants will be able to pass through a special lane at one of the airport’s security checkpoints starting sometime in July. While they will not be able to bypass the metal detector and screens for carry-on bags, they can avoid more intensive secondary screening if they do not set off any security devices.

The pilot program is currently free for the volunteers. Officials say that if the program is expanded nationally, registered travelers could expect to a pay a fee to cover administrative costs.

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