Relaxed security screenings now in effect for air travelers 75+

Orlando International Airport launches 1 of 4 test programs nationwide

Published On: Mar 14 2012 11:21:30 AM EDT   Updated On: Mar 19 2012 12:45:20 PM EDT
TSA airport security
ORLANDO, Fla. -

Starting Monday, air travelers over the age of 75 may not have to remove their shoes or light jackets to clear security in a test program at four U.S. airports, including Orlando International Airport.

The Transportation Security Administration announced the change last Wednesday. It's one of several new procedures meant to speed lower-risk passengers through screening and will likely mean fewer pat-downs for older travelers.

"These changes will allow officers to better focus their efforts on passengers who may be more likely to pose a risk to transportation, while expediting the screening process," said Joseph Terrell, Federal Security Director for TSA in Orlando last week.

Individuals who are 75 and older may still have to remove shoes and light jackets in certain situations if an abnormality is detected, but officials hope the new modified screening may improve the travel experience for the elderly.

Late last year, the federal agency made similar changes for travelers ages 12 and younger at some airports.

"It'll probably increase the speed of the line because older people who don't travel very much are probably very nervous with this system." said Dave Heun, 77, who arrived home at OIA after a trip to Chicago.  "It's difficult for them to walk, it's difficult to pick up things and to move things."

The new procedures aside from OIA, also went into effect as of March 19 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, Denver International and Portland International.

Airport security is a common complaint of travelers. Many of them say the TSA doesn't use common sense when it screens all air travelers the same way, including young children and the elderly.

"TSA is a counter terrorism agency and certainly our mission is focused on preventing threats from entering the transportation system," said Sari Koshetz of TSA. "But we also understand certain individuals posse less of a threat than others."