TSA Administrator Shares Insights with Global Business Travel Association

The steps TSA is taking to ensure a safe, secure return to travel

For the eighth week of its Collaboratory 2020 series, the Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Interim Executive Director, Dave Hilfman, hosted David Pekoske, Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for the headliner webinar of the week: “TSA: Leveraging Technology and Innovation to Stay Healthy and Secure.” In his role at the head of TSA, Administrator Pekoske leads a workforce of approximately 60,000 employees and is responsible for security operations at nearly 450 airports throughout the United States.

During yesterday’s webinar, participants heard from Pekoske about the agency’s response to growing passenger volumes, protective measures being taken to make the screening process safer for passengers and employees, and technological innovations designed to reduce physical contact and increase social distancing at the checkpoint.

Highlights of the discussion between Mr. Hilfman and Administrator Pekoske included:

  • On Sunday, October 18, TSA screened over 1 million passengers for the first time since March 17, 2020. “We are seeing about a 40 percent recovery of the system overall,” said Pekoske. “While some airports are seeing a faster recovery, particularly those in more popular leisure travel destinations, the trend is very positive.”
  • During the pandemic, TSA has made great strides in improving safety and security for the traveling public through the use of credential authentication technology, x-ray technology for carry-on bags, and advanced imaging technology for traveler body scans. “We’ve made the identification check at security nearly contactless, with new technology that allows the traveler to insert their driver’s license into a machine – instead of handing it to an agent – and the machine tells the agent if the identification is valid and even checks the traveler’s flight status while they are standing there,” said Pekoske.
  • The pandemic will result in positive, long-term changes to the way TSA operates. “At TSA, we have experienced unparalleled cooperation with airports, airlines and the travel industry, enabling us to become even more agile, assess issues more rapidly and come up with a solution quickly,” said Pekoske. “The TSA workforce has been phenomenal during this challenging time and our front-line employees have been able to forge better relationships with passengers, which is critical in building confidence and ensuring convenience for the passengers.”

“The advances in technology and enhancements in sanitization should make passengers feel very confident when traveling by air,” said Pekoske. “When I’ve traveled during this pandemic, my experience has been uniformly positive, with the overwhelming majority of passengers following health guidelines and TSA and airlines doing a fantastic job of making passengers feel very safe.”

This webinar, “TSA: Leveraging Technology and Innovation to Stay Healthy and Stay Secure,” is part of a series being presented by GBTA. To view the recording of this webinar or for more information on future webinars, visit gbta.org.

This week’s Collaboratory webinar was made possible by Deem.