TSA Secure Flight: Southwest Airlines Ask for Personal Info
Southwest Airlines is introducing Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) Secure Flight program. Southwest frequent flyers are asked to provide full name (matching government-issued photo ID), date of birth, gender, and TSA-issued Redress Number if applicable.
The Secure Flight program compares passenger names against the terrorist watch lists. The program is still in testing stage, and Southwest has been working with the agency to introduce the new system.
Southwest encourage their frequent flyers to provide those information to prevent delays, especially for those who have similar names to someone on the watch list.
“It is to your advantage to provide the above information to potentially prevent delays or inconveniences at the airport, especially for those individuals who have similar names to those on the watch lists,” Southwest said.
Soon all domestic fliers, who number more than two million daily, will be asked to provide that information when they purchase a ticket. A redress number is given out though the DHS-TRIP program to people who match against the list, but aren’t the people on the list.
Famous examples of those caught by the current system that relies only on name matching include Sen. Edward Kennedy, an important nun, federal employees with security clearances, Cat Stevens the singer (on the list) and Catherine Stevens - the wife of former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).
TSA spokesperson said if passengers refuse to provide those information, they might experience delay at the ticket counter.
American Airlines also announced in September that they would start asking for more information from passengers.
Another TSA plan is to install 150 security machines at airports that enable screeners to see under passengers' clothes. While TSA spokesperson Kristin Lee said these machines are critical to stopping terrorists, they have generated controversy.
"Body imaging is a total invasion of privacy," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who proposed the restriction. "You don't need this kind of scrutiny."