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Archive for Thursday, July 8, 2004

Minneapolis airport streamlines security

July 8, 2004

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— Select airline passengers breezed through security Wednesday at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in the start of an experiment to ease delays and make flying a little more agreeable.

Under the program, frequent business fliers will not be subject to random searches if they pass background checks in advance and do not set off any alarms while moving through security.

Minneapolis-St. Paul is the first of five U.S. airports to take part in the program, which could be made permanent. Airports in Boston, Los Angeles, Houston and Washington are scheduled to adopt the practice over the next two months.

Over the past two weeks, about 2,400 frequent business travelers have signed up, providing scans of irises and fingerprints and extensive personal information. That information was cross-checked against several criminal and terror-related databases.

On Wednesday, some of those registered travelers were moving through the lone express lane at the airport's six security checkpoints. It took about a minute for registered travelers to get through security and about five minutes for everyone else.

The registered travelers presented their boarding passes to an agent who asked them to put their left index finger on a scanner. After about three seconds, a computer screen read: "Success. You may proceed."

The registered travelers still had to go through a metal detector, and their carry-on bags had to go through an X-ray machine. However, they were not subject to random searches once they passed that point.

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