MASON CITY, Iowa - Every time before you go to board an airplane, you are forced to go through security. But now, a propsal from the Transporation Security Administration could change that.
The TSA is looking to do away with passenger screenings at more than 150 small- and medium-sized airports around the country. The agency has not specifically listed what airports could be impacted. The move could save $115 million annually, which could be used to strengthen security at larger airports.
Mason City Airport serves small aircraft, which usually seat a maximum of about 60 people, and fits the TSA's definition of a small airport.
Jared Knowles has flown out of the Mason City Airport a few times, and is flying to the Twin Cities to connect to a flight to Salt Lake City. He believes that the new proposal, which would require passengers that fly out of smaller airports to connect to flights at larger airports, would need to be screened after they land and before they connect, would be inconvenient.
"I always preferred to fly out of Mason City because it's easier, security checks, less hassle, less people, and I think that would ... make it less convenient for me."
Al Ashland flies to Chicago regularly to see his son, and doesn't see a big advantage to doing away with security altogether, saying that the staff is friendly and cordial, and also thinks security is necessary.
"A smaller airport like Mason City - people usually stick out if there's something going on ... pilots usually have a good idea of who's getting out of their plane."
And Knowles believes that TSA employees do a good job, regardless of airport size.
"As long as they're confident, then I think security is taken care of."
In a statement, TSA Assistant Administrator of Public Affairs Michael Bilello said that “there has been no decision to eliminate passenger screening at any federalized U.S. airport. TSA remains committed to its core mission to secure the Homeland by screening more than 2.5 million airline passengers per day. Every year as part of the federal budget process TSA is asked to discuss potential operational efficiencies—this year is no different. Any potential operational changes to better allocate limited taxpayer resources are simply part of predecisional discussions and deliberations and would not take place without a risk assessment to ensure the security of the aviation system.”
The TSA is responsible for security at more than 400 airports across the country, and screen about 2.5 million passengers each day.