Business

Deal in Congress Keeps FAA Funded, Expands TSA PreCheck Program

A new FAA funding arrangement, agreed upon by both chambers of Congress, could help improve some of the recent pain points for air travelers, as well as airport security in general. Left on the cutting-room floor, however? A broader plan for air-traffic-control reform favored by many airlines.

A new FAA funding arrangement, agreed upon by both chambers of Congress, could help improve some of the recent pain points for air travelers, as well as airport security in general. Left on the cutting-room floor, however? A broader plan for air-traffic-control reform favored by many airlines.

A new deal announced Wednesday by members of Congress packs some good news for travelers—and it’s likely to pass, so as to prevent a partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The deal, which funds the agency through September 30, 2017, includes efforts to improve various parts of the flying experience. For example:

Improvements to airport security. The lines that have been driving travelers crazy in recent months are likely to shrink as airport hiring standards are improved; employees are redeployed to other parts of the airport; and alternate measures, such as canine deployment, are expanded. Long story short: Your wait could get shorter in the coming months.

PreCheck getting expanded. The program, which the travel industry has widely encouraged as a way to solve some of the problems facing backlogged security lines, is expected to grow as the FAA invests more into marketing the program. Additionally, as  the Chicago Tribune reports, TSA would be required to keep a PreCheck line open during heavy travel periods. Roger Dow, head of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a news release that this upgrade “gives the travel industry the most cause to celebrate” and cheered the agreement for expanding the public-private partnership on the issue.

Refunds in case of luggage issues. Lose your luggage? Stuck waiting on it too long? You’ll get a reprieve on charges. With the new law, airlines would have to refund checked-bag fees if baggage is lost or delayed—in the latter case, for more than 12 hours on domestic flights and 15 hours for overseas flights, the Tribune reports.

Keeping kids safe. Finally, the bill would require airlines to take steps to ensure that children under age 13 are seated near their companions—whether an adult or an older child.

What Didn’t Make It In

A number of other consumer-focused initiatives that had been opposed by Airlines for America didn’t make it into the deal, but also left on the cutting room floor is something that A4A wanted: a plan to privatize air traffic control.

Last month, the Dallas Morning News reported that A4A and some major airlines were critical of the slow progress being made on the reform of the air-traffic-control system.

“In the company’s mind, it’s not a privatization issue. It is a reform issue in the way the FAA is funded and the way it can move projects out the door,” American Airlines Vice President Lorne Cass told the newspaper.

(Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!


Comments