New TSA Bill, Like Other Air Travel Proposals, Unlikely To Become Law

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) this week introduced two bills aimed at the Transportation Security Administration. One would establish a "bill of rights" for air travelers undergoing screening and another would require "screening of passengers at airports to be conducted by private screeners only," rather than TSA personnel. Like other bills introduced in the current session of Congress that seek to address the frustrations of air travelers, Paul's proposed legislation has little chance of being enacted, according to legislative and airline analysts.

A minimum of 17 items in Paul's new "bill of rights" includes establishing "a one-year deadline to implement a screening process for pre-cleared frequent flyers at all airports with more than 250,000 annual flights"; a guaranteed right for travelers to be re-screened through imaging machines or metal detectors rather than being "subjected to an automatic pat-down"; and a guarantee of "a traveler's right to request a pat-down using only the back of the hand.", a legislative tracking tool operated by Civic Impulse LLC, indicated that Paul's bills have only a 1 percent chance of enactment, considering that only 3 percent of all Senate bills introduced in the previous session became law and that Paul as a Republican is in the Senate's minority party.

According to a research note published last Friday by Wolfe Trahan airline analyst Hunter Keay, "We found three different bills in various stages of the legislative process that, if passed, could negatively impact airlines. The chances that any of these bills see the light of day is remote."

Those bills include the "Basic Airline Services to Improve Customer Satisfaction Act," introduced in November 2011 by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), which would require airlines to allow one free checked bag as well as one carry-on and personal item aboard the aircraft. "This bill has a 2 percent chance of being enacted," according to

Then, there is the "Air Passenger Fairness Act of 2012," introduced on March 26 by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), which, among other provisions, "prohibits an air carrier or airport operator from establishing an expedited line for a specific category of passengers to be screened at an airport checkpoint before entering the airport's sterile area."

Also, there is House Bill 729, the latest incarnation of the so-called passenger bill of rights act, introduced during the current House of Representatives session by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.). That bill seeks "to ensure air passengers have access to necessary services while on a grounded air carrier."

That bill has a 1 percent chance of enactment, considering it was reintroduced from a previous session and the sponsor is a member of the minority House party, according to analysis.