This afternoon the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on the subject of passenger screening, focusing on the revised regulations put forward by TSA on December 2nd. The AP story on the hearing is here, and Kip Hawley’s prepared testimony is now up on the committee site here. No breaking news in his testimony. The increase in canine teams mentioned in the testimony is a very wise move: as far as I can tell, trained dogs are still the most effective means of explosives detection out there.
One of the ideas discussed toward the end of the hearing was tightening restrictions on carry-on luggage to one item per person, as a way to lighten the burden on checkpoint screeners – an idea that Sen. Stevens indicated that he favored putting into a future bill. Frankly, this is an idiotic idea. If they force the typical business traveler with a briefcase or laptop bag and a small roller suitcase to check one bag, then the lines for check-in are going to substantially increase, and really gum up the system. And what about the impact on the throughput for the checked baggage EDS machines? Has anyone thought that one through? This is one idea that deserves a premature death.
Update: From the hearing transcript, some of Stevens’ comments about a carry-on limit:
STEVENS: I’m going to tell you. This commercial passenger would be much happier if you found some way to limit the carry-on bags and tell people they can only take one thing inside that cabin and that you put that through the screen and then tell me that you’ve not found anything in it that looks like it’s threatening, as compared to the person that’s carrying it….
STEVENS: I’ve got to tell you. As I said, as a frequent flyer and then some, I’d be happier if you locked those cargo things above my head. I’d be happier if you permitted passengers to only take one thing on. Now I see people with one wheel thing that’s six feet long, another one, this wheel thing that’s three feet long, supposedly their briefcase, and you you say they’ve gone through screening because of the automatic screener, right?
This has nothing to do with aviation security, and is a bad, bad idea.