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Assessing the Security Benefits of a Trusted Traveler Program in the Presence of Attempted Attacker Exploitation and Compromise

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Working paper

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Since September 11, 2001, very significant changes have been made to aviation security in an effort to prevent future terrorist attacks. Additional screening processes have been put in place, new technologies have been deployed, and as is reflected in the budgets for the aviation elements of the Transportation Security Administration increased resources, now exceeding 6 billion dollars per year, have been committed to aviation security Department of Homeland Security, 2011. As these changes have occurred, however, questions have been raised about the basic philosophy of aviation security, which is that security is applied uniformly to all. This argument has been crystallized in public debate with images of grandmothers getting the same treatment as people who are more likely to be terrorists. One outcome of this debate has been renewed interest in ways to vary the amount of screening individuals receive with the goals of improving performance and reducing the security burden on some travelers. Preferential treatment in screening can be approached in two ways. The first is identifying individuals who may pose more risk than others and allocating more security resources to them, a process usually called profiling. The second is identifying individuals who likely pose less risk than others and allowing them to pass through security with reduced security screening, a process known as trusted traveler programs. There is an extensive literature examining the former,1 but there is much less analysis of the latter see Government Accountability Office, 2002. Our focus here is on trusted traveler programs. The basic logic of a trusted traveler program is that security resources can be shifted from travelers who have been confirmed as low risk to the remaining unknown risk population.

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  • Commercial and General Aviation
  • Government and Political Science
  • Unconventional Warfare

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