On 4 February 2020, a contingent of 200 travel professionals representing the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), visited Washington D.C. for ASTA Legislative Day 2020.
The group had arranged meetings with 175 congressmen and were prepared to advocate for a number of issues affecting their industry and the American travellers they serve.
High on ASTA’s agenda was proposed legislation to protect American air travellers from the chaos that may ensue when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) starts enforcing the REAL ID Act on 1 October 2020.
Unless action is taken, ASTA argues, as many as 500,000 travellers per week will be turned away at airport security checkpoints for not having the required REAL ID-compliant driver’s licence or ID card, or an acceptable alternative such as a valid passport.
ASTA’s proposed remedy: Trusted Traveller REAL ID Relief Act of 2020
ASTA explained to congressmen that they are drafting legislation on the Trusted Traveller REAL ID Relief Act of 2020, which would help remedy the travel backlog by:
- Authorising federal agencies to exempt travellers with Known Traveller Numbers obtained through TSA PreCheck and Global Entry enrolment programmes if the traveller’s state is out of compliance, or if they are unable to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s licence or ID card by 1 October.
- Authorising TSA’s use of other enhanced screening techniques at airports, when a traveller does not have REAL ID-compliant ID. The enhanced screenings involve asking a series of questions that only the traveller would be able to answer correctly, much like banks ask consumers in order to verify their identity. (This would require the TSA to have access that kind of personal information.)
- Requiring the TSA to work with travel agencies to promote the October 1st REAL ID deadline to travellers.
ASTA says draft legislation might be prepared as early as this week.
American Society of Travel Advisors, Legislators Hear from the Frontline of American Travel Industry Over 200 travel advisors bring the voice of the traveler to Capitol Hill
Travel Market Report, While Political Rancor Dominates Washington, Travel Advisors Seek to Be Heard