Biometric flier experiment to start

Starting this week, some airline travelers will get in the fast lane and skip a portion of the checkpoints as part of the Transportation Security Administration's expedited security program.

Participants in the pilot test of the Registered Traveler program will pass through airport security checkpoints faster using a smart card with a biometric component — a unique identifier, such as a fingerprint or iris scan. TSA officials expect to enroll about 3,000 travelers at each of the five participating airports for the three-month pilot test, which begins July 7. The two companies involved in the program are Unisys Corp., which won a $2.47 million contract and EDS, which won a $1.31 million contract.

TSA, the Metropolitan Airport Commission, Northwest Airlines, the National Business Travel Association and vendors, such as Daon, which is part of the Unisys Corp. team, are poised to kick off the program at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

During a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee last month, Jim May, president and chief executive officer of Air Transport Association of America Inc., submitted words of caution for the record. He urged TSA not to require airlines to collect or transmit participant information, but rather to keep the transmission of passenger data strictly between volunteer participants and TSA.

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