Updated Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 07:17 AM
WASHINGTON — Passengers arriving in the United States from international airports who miss connecting flights because their checked bags have to be rescreened could get some relief under legislation passed Wednesday by the House and sent to the president for his signature.
The “No-Hassle Flying Act” gives the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) the authority to waive rescreening requirements for flights from international airports that install U.S.-equivalent baggage-scanning processes and equipment.
It has yet to be decided which airports will qualify, but a likely starting point will be 14 airports in Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean where the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency already inspects and clears commercial air passengers. Passengers now arriving from those airports need not undergo another physical security check upon arriving in the United States, but their bags still must be transported to TSA facilities for screening using explosives-detection-system gear before they can board another flight.
“This is a smart, efficient way to streamline travel, boost tourism and lower costs while maintaining the highest security standards,” said Nicholas Calio, president and chief executive officer of Airlines for America, the trade organization for leading U.S. airlines.
The bill, which the Senate approved two weeks ago, passed the House on a voice vote. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., were the Senate sponsors. Illinois Republican Joe Walsh was the House sponsor.
“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,” Klobuchar said.
The bill coincides with the administration’s Beyond the Border initiative, in which the TSA is working to lift rescreening requirements as Canada installs comparable screening equipment.
TSA Administrator John Pistole last May proposed similar legislation to Congress, saying that giving his agency more leeway on rescreening “is key to TSA’s ongoing transition to a more risk-based and intelligence-driven counterterrorism posture.”