- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 19, 2002

A new airport procedure that eliminates most searches at boarding gates moved smoothly this week into the array of security adjustments started at Washington Dulles International Airport since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The procedure requires all passengers to obtain boarding passes before going through the security checkpoint in airport terminals, even if they bought the tickets in advance.
"For us it's been very smooth and hasn't been an issue at all," said Kurt Ebenhoch, spokesman for Northwest Airlines.
Dulles Airport is one of 10 airports nationwide where the procedure is being tested. Officials at the Transportation Security Administration plan to make the same procedural change at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Airport soon.
Passengers who purchase tickets in advance can get the boarding passes online, at the ticket counter, from self-service kiosks at ticket counters, and curbside check-in. The kiosks print out boarding passes when passengers slide their credit cards into them and type the first three letters of their destination onto a screen.
Previously, passengers who purchased tickets in advance, such as through electronic ticketing, could obtain boarding passes at gates. However, they could be pulled aside by screeners at gates for additional searches.
The TSA still plans to do random patdowns or metal checks with wands, but screeners no longer will be posted at every gate.
An added advantage for the TSA is that the boarding passes are encoded with messages indicating a passenger should be searched more thoroughly than others. The messages are generated by a computer system that monitors unusual facts about a ticket purchase, such as a one-way ticket to a political hotspot.
Complaints by airline officials were at least part of the reason the TSA is eliminating redundant searches at gates. Airlines said some passengers felt intimidated by the searches, which was driving down the number of people who fly.
Most passengers at Dulles who used any of the 11 self-service kiosks at the United Airlines ticket counter yesterday waited in line no more than a minute or two, if at all.
"It didn't slow me down," said Jose Muniz, a Lancaster, Pa., pollster visiting Washington for a business trip.
Other passengers expressed similar feelings.
"Not at all," said Bruce Poch, a Los Angeles college dean, referring to whether the new boarding-pass policy created difficulties for him. "It's easier than waiting in some of those long lines."
Nearby, passengers buying their tickets inched their way toward ticket counters in lines that meandered across the mezzanine.

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