After hinting for months that he would start a "trusted traveler" program to expedite screening at airport checkpoints, Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole took his first step in that direction Thursday, announcing a pilot project for passengers who voluntarily release certain information about themselves.
The pilot project initially will be small, limited to a select group of travelers and to people already enrolled in existing programs run by border officials.
Nonetheless, the travel industry and some politicians hailed it as a major change of philosophy that eventually could have a major impact on airport screening, diverting security from known individuals and focusing attention on unknown travelers and suspected terrorists.
The TSA disclosed few details about the inner workings of the program. But industry officials briefed by the TSA said eligible participants will get to forgo some of the banalities of checkpoint searches -- such as removing shoes and jackets, and taking computers from carry-on bags.
Participants also likely will be directed through magnetometers instead of through full-body imagers, which take more time and have raised privacy concerns, they said.
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