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Fri, Dec 14, 2012

'No-Hassle Flying Act' Passes House, Heads To The White House

Legislation Would Waive Redundant Rescreening Requirement At Certain International Airports

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation originally introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) (pictured) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) to eliminate redundant baggage screening for travelers arriving from airports that have established a preclearance agreement with the United States, and installed U.S.-equivalent baggage scanners. The measure is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

Baggage at certain international airports, including many in Canada, undergoes the same high-level screening procedures employed at U.S. ports of entry, but current law still requires luggage from these airports to be rescreened upon entry into the United States, creating unnecessary hassle and delays for travelers. The senators’ bipartisan legislation would waive the rescreening requirement for luggage processed through preclearance airports that have already installed U.S.-equivalent baggage scanning equipment and procedures, allowing passengers to skip the time-consuming procedure without compromising security.

“As thousands of Americans travel internationally this holiday season, too many will have to deal with the hassle of rescreening their luggage,” Klobuchar said.“Requiring luggage to undergo the exact same screening process twice in one trip puts a burden on both our international aviation security system and travelers. This bill is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law to help the TSA ensure the security of luggage more efficiently and effectively while reducing delays for passengers.”

“Travel and tourism are important industries that fuel job creation and economic opportunity in Missouri and across America,” said Blunt. “I hope the president will sign this bill into law quickly so we can streamline our baggage screening process and encourage more international travelers while still maintaining the highest levels of safety and security.”           

Currently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection performs U.S. border inspection and clearance of commercial air passengers at 14 airports in Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean. This screening is the same inspection a passenger would undergo at any U.S. port of entry; however, the screening does not currently include the passengers’ checked luggage, which must be rescreened by high-quality scanners upon arrival at U.S. airports. As part of the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border initiative, Canadian preclearance airports are beginning the process of installing U.S.-equivalent baggage scanning technology. The No-Hassle Flying Act of 2012 would allow the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to waive the rescreening requirement at those airports that participate in preclearance operations and have implemented U.S.-equivalent baggage scanning processes and equipment, reducing the need to rescreen baggage at U.S. airports and allowing passengers to avoid frustrating delays and lines without weakening national security.

Airlines for America (A4A) commended the House vote on the "No Hassle Flying Act of 2012." "This is a smart, efficient way to streamline travel, boost tourism and lower costs while maintaining the highest security standards," said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. "Safe and reliable baggage screening is a key component in ensuring aviation safety around the world, and our members fully support efforts to implement robust, reliable and intelligent screening systems that enhance security and make travel more convenient for customers at the same time. We appreciate the leadership that Congress has shown in promoting this common-sense, risk-based screening approach."

FMI: www.klobuchar.senate.gov

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