This morning, Airports Council International – North America President and CEO Kevin M. Burke joined Transportation Security Administration Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell, Washington Metropolitan Airport Authority DCA Airport Manager Paul Malandrino, and Airlines for America Senior Vice President and Legislative and Regulatory Policy Sharon Pinkerton to kick off the holiday travel season.
Airports across the country are preparing for the busy holiday travel season implementing measures to streamline the travel experience. We expect this to be another record year. More than 1.9 billion passengers traveled through North American airports last year. The record travel we will see in the coming weeks over the holiday season further exemplifies this record growth.
As passenger traffic increases, passengers will continue to experience holiday-level travel volumes throughout the year. Our number one goal is to ensure the safe, secure, and efficient movement of travelers – especially during the holiday season. Partnership is key to our success.
Airports are working with our TSA and CBP partners to maintain a safe and efficient travel environment. Together, we continue to design and deploy innovative processes, procedures and technology to further streamline the journey through airports.
Our partnership with TSA includes investment in predictive technology and communication systems to provide travelers wait time estimates at screening checkpoints. In coordination with airports and airlines, the TSA Airport Operations Center successfully highlights potential wait time issues and addresses them before they become larger problems.
This coordination happens 365 days a year.
Despite funding issues, our TSA partners do an admirable job in optimizing TSA officer staffing levels over the busy travel periods to minimize wait times. However, we continue to call on Congress to provide TSA stable funding for staffing and technology, and to eliminate the diversion of the 9/11 Passenger Security Fee. More than $1.2 billion will be diverted this year.
Over a 10-year period, $12.6 billion of the user fee will be siphoned off to subsidize other federal programs. With record breaking passenger numbers, the entire 9/11 passenger security fee should be used to adequately fund the staffing levels necessary to effectively and efficiently screen passengers and their baggage.
We strongly encourage travelers to enroll in TSA PreCheck, or one of Customs and Border Protection’s trusted traveler programs – Global Entry or NEXUS – for international travel. By enrolling in one of these programs, travelers can ensure a level of predictability in their travel experience.
Additionally, this time next year passengers will be required to present REAL ID compliant identification in order to travel. Despite the ongoing efforts to raise awareness about REAL ID requirements, airports remain concerned about the potential for travel disruptions for those who do not present acceptable identification.
Without REAL ID, a Global Entry card, Passport, or other eligible federal identification, you will not be able to board your aircraft after October 1, 2020. If you only travel over the holiday season to visit family and friends, you will need to be REAL ID compliant by October 1, 2020.
We know that millions of Americans will travel to see loved ones over the next few weeks, and we will continue our close coordination with our government partners to provide a safe and efficient holiday travel season.