TSA to extend ‘risk-based security’ system to screening luggage

Luggage moves through a new explosives detection system at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New York City. The system gives all bags the same level of scrutiny.
(John Moore / Getty Images)

The Transportation Security Administration has been moving away from a system that assumes all passengers, including children and the elderly, pose the same security risk.

For example, the TSA now operates PreCheck lines at 115 airports that let passengers who pass a background check zip through without removing coats, belts, shoes or removing laptop computers from carrying cases.

Now the TSA plans to apply its so-called risk-based security system to the screening of luggage. Under the current TSA screening system, every bag gets the same level of scrutiny.


As part of a $2.2-billion plan over the next five years, the TSA says it wants to adopt a system that can identify the risk level of each bag based on information about its owner. The luggage of passengers deemed high risk would get a more thorough screening than other bags.

“TSA uses an intelligence-driven, risk-based approach to transportation security,” said TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein. “An integral part of that strategy is using advanced technology in passenger and baggage screening.”