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Quicker airport checks sought

The nation's largest travel trade group has launched an ad campaign to pressure Congress to adopt an alternative passenger screening program so that business travelers and other frequent fliers can zip through airports faster.

The U.S. Travel Association is promoting the idea of letting frequent travelers submit to background checks so they can speed through specially designated airport lines operated by the Transportation Security Administration. That is intended to shorten the lines for everyone else who has to go through the extensive pat-down searches and full-body scans.

Association President Roger Dow said the current screening system doesn't work because it assumes all travelers pose the same threat. "A one-size-fits-all approach to security is inefficient," he said.

The "trusted traveler" idea is not new and has critics. In the past, private security companies had mixed results performing background checks for frequent travelers. Some firms couldn't register enough paying customers to survive, and several airports balked at providing terminal space for the new security lines.

To press Congress to back the idea, the travel association has already run ads in a national newspaper and has launched a website, betrustednow.org, that asks supporters to sign an online petition. Ads urging travelers to "tell Congress you want a trusted traveler program" will also appear at major airport terminals in June.

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