Airports Can Opt Out Of TSA Screening

Apropos of the gathering public outcry against invasive screenings by the Transportation Security Administration that James Joyner wrote about earlier today, Glenn Reynolds passes along a link which shows that airports can opt out of TSA screening:

‘§ 44920. Security screening opt-out program ”(a) IN GENERAL.—On or after the last day of the 2-year period beginning on the date on which the Under Secretary transmits to Congress the certification required by section 110(c) of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, an operator of an airport may submit to the Under Secretary an application to have the screening of passengers and property at the airport under section 44901 to be carried out by the screening personnel of a qualified private screening company under a contract entered into with the Under Secretary.

I’m not sure whether this really solves the problem since the private company, and presumably the procedures it uses, must be approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Nonetheless, to the extent that the TSA is the problem this would seem to be an alternative option.

Additionally, there is news that legislators in New Jersey and Idaho have introduced legislation in their respective state legislatures to ban body image scanners. Whether these laws would have any effect in the face of federal law is unclear, though.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. MarkedMan says:

    Sorry Doug. The airports tried to use this out years ago (2002? 2003?). It had nothing to do with changing the process. The airports were using it in an attempt to pay the screeners even less than the sub $10/hr salary they make now. The contract screeners did exactly what the TSA guys do now, and they were drawn from an even more desperate pool of people, ones who couldn’t get a job that paid even one dollar over the minimum wage and had no benefits whatsoever.

  2. Tano says:

    ‘to the extent that the TSA is the problem this would seem to be an alternative option.”

    huh? What does this even mean? In what way is the TSA the problem, other than the fact that they are doing these screenings that you object to? Having them done by a private company changes what exactly?

    Are you serious at all here? Being xrayed and “groped’ by federal employees is some huge problem, but by private employees (presumably lower paid and with less vetting) its ok?

    I think you are making the case that this whole issue is a big joke, or else just political posturing.