- AFA RESPONSE TO THE RECENT TSA SCREENING DIRECTIVES
AFA RESPONSE TO THE RECENT TSA SCREENING DIRECTIVES
This Eline is two-fold. It takes two tracks. The first is to tell you the
latest from the TSA regarding crew members and new TSA security directives. The
second is to tell what AFA has done since TSA announced the new procedures.
THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS
Recent media reports in the last 24 hours have indicated that pilots and
flight attendants will be subject to different screening methods. Those reports
are contrary to what TSA has told AFA. TSA has stated the following to AFA:
TSA Administrator John Pistole told AFA-CWA all flight attendants and
pilots traveling in uniform on airline business are going to be exempt from AIT
(advanced imaging technology). If any pilot or flight attendant alarms
the Walk Through Metal Detector, the pat-down for pilots and flight attendants
will be the same. TSA said they will begin notifying their TSOs of this
procedure for all crewmembers.
While there will be no different treatment for pilots or flight attendants,
the ultimate problem of intrusive pat-down procedures for some crew members
WHAT AFA HAS DONE
As you know, in October the TSA implemented new security directives that can
lead to invasive measures - in the name of security. While all of us respect
the need to keep the skies safe, the new directives have very negative and
disturbing impacts on all crew members. AFA has tried to partner with the TSA
and US Airways in many ways after 9/11 in order to maintain security and also
respect the fact our crew members are first responders and the first line of
defense – a line touted by the FAA and the TSA.
Flight attendants and pilots are subject to security and background checks in
order to maintain our employment. Crew members at all airlines have already been
scrutinized more than any other member of society before boarding a commercial
airliner. No other individual boarding a passenger flight in this country has
been subject to such scrutiny.
Since the installation of Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) there have been
instances where crew members have been subject to invasive and pat-downs as a
result of either refusing to go through the AIT full body scan devices or set
off a Walk Through Metal Detector.
Due to poor communications from the TSA about the new directives our members,
already exposed to radiation through years of flying, may be directed to pass
through the new full body scans or face the TSA's new pat-down procedure. In
many cases, this choice is forced upon us several times a day – week after week
– month after month.
Setting off a Walk Through Metal Detector is not a crime. Sometimes it is
I have spoken to many flight attendants about this issue. Here is one
A particular flight attendant has been flying for over thirty years. She has
had two hip replacement surgeries yet she still loves her job and works a full
monthly flying schedule. Because she does not want to be exposed to anymore
radiation than she already has through years of flying, she decided to opt out
of the full body scanner and instead – as is her right – pass through the metal
detector lane. As you can imagine, the detector "detected" the metal hip
replacement joints. The "anomaly" could not be "cleared" – therefore, in
compliance with TSA procedures the full pat-down was required. This has
happened to her twice since implementation of the new procedures.
Under the current TSA procedures she has an ironic choice to make. Either,
subject herself to radiation or undergo the intrusive pat-down. Until new
procedures are in effect, this will happen to her every time she reports to
In 2007, Congress, on advice from the 9/11 security commission, directed the
TSA to develop a alternative screening process for flight deck and cabin crew
members at screening checkpoints. For several years your AFA MEC at US Airways
has been in discussions the Company to implement this alternative screening
process for flight attendants. This procedure would make entering a secure
airport environment rational - while still maintaining the highest level of
safety and security
This alternative screening method for crew members is called "CrewPASS".
The CrewPASS system uses biometrics, such as a finger print, to positively
identify pre-screened and security-checked crew members and to verify in real
time they are active employees, thus expediting their passage through the
security screening process without compromising safety.
Later in this Eline you will see a letter to Vice President of Inflight,
Hector Adler in July of 2009 asking the Company to work with AFA toward the
implementation of the system. I received a "we will work on it" response a
month later. So far, nothing has been "worked on".
I met, along with other labor leaders, last week in PHX with the US Airways
Board of Directors Labor Committee. These quarterly meetings are for the
purpose for labor to express concerns to top Company executives and members of
the Board of Directors.
At the meeting, I asked CEO and Chairman of the Board, Doug Parker, if the
company was now willing to join AFA and USAPA in pushing for the implementation
Mr. Parker told us, while he was aware of CrewPASS, he was not aware of our
efforts to discuss this with the company. He also said that while he shared our
concerns, he believed the best way for US Airways to approach the issue was
through the Air Transportation Association (ATA). The ATA is a trade
organization representing the principle United State air carriers. Hardly a
hearty, "we hear you and will work with you", response.
Within the past two weeks the public outcries over the new security
directives have dominated the news. Passenger rights groups, unions and
individual citizens have filed complaints and appeared in numerous media
I have yet to see one outcry from US Airways – and neither have you.
What is going to happen is that passengers and crew members are going to opt
out of full body scans, thus clogging traditional metal detector lines. The
results will likely cause delayed flights and missed flights.
To that end, all crew members subject to a pat-down have certain rights.
Copied below is a letter of AFA International Director of Air Safety and
Security, Chris Witkowski. I have excerpted a paragraph of that letter
detailing your rights, as crew members if subjected to a pat-down:
"TSA must provide a same gender
Transportation Security Officer (TSO) to carry out an Enhanced Pat-Down with a
second same gender TSO present. You have the right for this to be done in a in a
private room or area out of public view and have a companion present during this
procedure. If no companion or crew member of your choice is present to accompany
you when you undergo Enhanced Pat-down, but you are with other members of your
crew at the security checkpoint, it would be helpful for one or more of them to
wait for you, if able to do so, in case of any problems that you may encounter
with the manner in which the Enhanced Pat-Down is done or is attempted to be
done. Such problems, including names, times and location should be
documented and reported."
Please avail yourself of all the rights you are entitled to. Just because
you may have a report time to make does not mean that you have to give up those
AFA is keeping a database of all crew member security
In addition, please keep a detailed record of any pat-down procedures you may
endure and send them to Chris Witkowski at the following email address:
In your report please detail the following:
- The date and time of the pat-down
- The airport
- The actual checkpoint location within that airport
- The reason TSA required a pat-down
- Was the pat-down conducted in a private, non-public area
- Did TSA allow a witness and, if not, why?
- Any other details you feel pertinent to the issue
AFA is working on an online form for the submission of these reports. In the
meantime we want ot be able to document any and all reports.
In the end, passengers may opt for alternative means of transportation. If
that happens, the effect on airline's bottom lines will turn airline executives
around – and they will join us in working toward a constructive way to provide a
secure aviation environment without trampling the rights of the flying public or
the employees who work every day to provide that environment.
It should not come to that point.
Below are copies of the AFA initiatives and communications we have been
working on. More will follow as we work toward a rational and reasonable
Mike Flores, President
The US Airways Master Executive Council
INITIAL LETTER TO VICE PRESIDENT OF INFLIGHT, HECTOR ADLER -
July 19, 2009
Mr. Hector Adler
Vice President, InFlight Services
US Airways, Inc.
4000 E. Sky Harbor Blvd.
Re: Flight Crew Personnel Advanced Screening System (CrewPASS)
Via FAX and US MAIL
As you may know, the 2007 legislation passed by Congress,
Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007", included a provision for
granting flight deck and cabin crew members expedited access through security
checkpoints into sterile areas of the country's airports. Since that time, the
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been conducting a test program
for an Advanced Screening System (CrewPASS) involving pilots and contracting
with Aeronautical Radio, Inc. (ARINC) to refine and expand the concept.
In its requirements with ARINC, the TSA has called for CrewPASS to verify
the identity of crewmembers by use of a biometric. A test program is currently
underway and ARINC has started enrolling pilots and obtaining their fingerprints
at BWI in order to test the capability of CrewPASS to successfully incorporate
biometrics and provide a high level of identity assurance.
At this time ARINC, is interested in incorporating Flight Attendants into
CrewPASS. In order for this technology to advance, the Flight Attendant
database needs to be accessed by ARINC. A Cockpit Access Security System (CASS)
exists in order to clear pilots of one carrier to use the flight deck jumpseat
of another carrier. The inclusion of Flight Attendants into the existing or
modified CASS would enable ARINC to transmit a request for a clearance through
the sterile areas of the nation's airports.
The Association of Flight Attendants clearly endorses the inclusion of
Flight Attendants in the expansion of the CrewPASS program. I am sure you will
agree that including Flight Attendants, as was the original intent of the
legislation, would be a benefit to our Flight Attendants, US Airways and our
In discussions with ARINC, it has become known, theCrewPASS program cannot
move forward without the inclusion of cabin crewmembers. To that end, the
Association is requesting your assistance in making CrewPASS a reality.
Initial discussions have taken place between ARINC and US Airways.
ARINC's Director of Business Development-Information management, Mr. Tim Ryan,
is specifically working to develop the stated CrewPass plan specifically for
Flight Attendants. Mr. Ryan can be reached at 410-266-4856. I spoke with Mr.
Ryan last week and he would very much like to talk to you.
On behalf of our MEC and our members I would appreciate anything you can
do to facilitate our Flight Attendants participating in the test phase of the
program in an attempt to hopefully make the program a reality.
Thank you advance,
Mike Flores, President
The US Airways Master Executive Council
Cc: The US Airways Master Executive Council
Patricia Friend, AFA International President
INITIAL AFA PRESS RELEASE FOLLOWING THE NEW TSA SECURITY
THE ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS-CWA CALLS ON TSA TO FULLY IMPLEMENT
For Immediate Release: November 1, 2010
Washington, DC – The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA)
today once again called for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to
fully implement CrewPass, an identification credential for aviation workers that
promotes expedited screening of those who most frequently must pass through
"TSA has devoted many resources to enhancing aviation security but, as
recently announced screening directives take effect, it is flight attendants who
are adversely affected by lengthy airport security lines," said Patricia Friend,
AFA-CWA International President. "Flight attendants are subject to extensive
background checks so there is no reasonable explanation why this highly vetted
group of aviation employees continues to be exposed to lengthy airport security
lines which may affect their ability to report to the aircraft on time. AFA-CWA
supports a multi-layered aviation security system and we urge the TSA to
continue work on improving airport security screening effectiveness."
For years, AFA-CWA has been urging TSA to devote serious resources to the
appropriate development and full implementation of an aviation workers'
identification credential that will promote expedited screening of those who
most frequently must pass through airport security. This credential could employ
biometrics, such as fingerprints, to quickly screen flight attendants and
others. This would ultimately allow TSA to focus on more effective screening of
the hundreds of airport vendors and thousands of aircraft passengers who daily
pass through the screening checkpoints.
NOVEMBER 17, 2010 AFA INTERNATIONAL AIR SAFETY HEALTH AND
SECURITY DEPARTMENT LETTER
To: AFA-CWA Board of Directors
From: Chris Witkowski
Director of Air Safety, Health and Security
Date: November 17, 2010
Re: TSA Screening Directives
As you are aware, TSA has begun new security screening directives for
passengers and crewmembers that may sometimes be required and are intended to
prevent explosives or other dangerous items from being brought aboard aircraft.
AFA-CWA will be meeting with TSA Administrator John Pistole on November 19 to
discuss the concerns of our members about these directives and to reiterate our
call for TSA to implement CrewPASS that would provide flight attendants with a
non-invasive method of screening. Until that is accomplished and in order to
address current concerns of our members, the following information developed in
consultation with the International Officers about security screening within the
U.S. may be helpful.
The new TSA security screening methods are Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT)
and Enhanced Pat-Downs. TSA says that AIT is safe, yet questions have been
raised by some. TSA cannot force one to go through AIT. You have the right to
opt out of AIT screening and have Enhanced Pat-Down instead. Your company
should have a specific description of TSA Enhanced Pat-Down and if they have not
yet made it available to you, then you may request it from them. If you
experience any difficulty in getting this information, please inform your AFA
Air Safety, Health and Security Committee.
Persons are required to undergo one of these two methods of added screening
if they alarm the Walk Through Metal Detector (WTMD) and it isn't easily
resolved. If you are required to undergo added screening, but decide against AIT
and choose Enhanced Pat-Down, this is your personal choice and you do not have
to give anyone a reason for it.
Enhanced Pat-Down may also be required to resolve an anomaly detected by AIT
screening or if you are selected for random screening at an alternate access
As of today, TSA has deployed AIT machines at 68 airports nationwide, so at
the remaining airports, enhanced Pat-Down is the only option if one alarms the
metal detector and is then required to go through the additional screening.
TSA must provide a same gender Transportation Security Officer (TSO) to carry
out an Enhanced Pat-Down with a second same gender TSO present. You have the
right for this to be done in a in a private room or area out of public view and
have a companion present during this procedure. If no companion or crew member
of your choice is present to accompany you when you undergo Enhanced Pat-down,
but you are with other members of your crew at the security checkpoint, it would
be helpful for one or more of them to wait for you, if able to do so, in case of
any problems that you may encounter with the manner in which the Enhanced
Pat-Down is done or is attempted to be done. Such problems, including names,
times and location should be documented and reported.
Transportation security officers have to identify any metal that is detected
at the checkpoint. If the metal detector alarms when you pass through, you can
be required to undergo additional screening.
Items that might set off an alarm on the metal detector include:
- Keys, loose change, mobile phones, pagers, and
personal data assistants (PDAs)
- Heavy jewelry (including pins, necklaces, bracelets,
rings, watches, earrings, body piercings, cuff links, lanyards or bolo ties)
- Clothing with metal buttons, snaps or studs
- Metal hair barrettes or other hair decoration
- Belt buckles
- Under-wire bras
Body Piercings. Certain metal body piercings may cause you to alarm at
the metal detector, which will result in you getting additional screening. If
additional screening is required, you may ask to remove your body piercing in
private as an alternative to the pat-down search.
Non-clothing items left in your pockets or on your person, even if not metal,
may cause an anomaly or alarm.
Medical or other issues:
- If you have a disability, condition, or implant, that
you would like to remain private and confidential, ask the Security Officer
to please be discreet when assisting you through the screening process.
Informing the TSA representative of any anomaly that may impact the
screening process should make it go more smoothly.
Please continue to report any problems encountered during the screening
process to your AFA MEC Air Safety, Health and Security Committee with a cc to
email@example.com . These reports and the assistance of your AFA Air
Safety, Health and Security Committee have been instrumental in working on these
issues with TSA headquarters in Washington, DC.
November 19, 2010 AFA Press Release
November 19, 2010
TSA Partners with Flight Attendants on SECURITY
Washington, DC – The Association of Flight Attendants – CWA
(AFA-CWA) today met with John Pistole, Administrator of the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) to discuss concerns about the enhanced screening
processes and to consider establishing alternative screening systems for flight
deck and cabin crew; including implementation of systems like CrewPASS at
At today's meeting members of AFA-CWA secured a commitment from TSA
Administrator John Pistole that the agency would partner with AFA-CWA on
aviation security. Administrator Pistole pledged, during a November 17, 2010
Senate testimony, that one of his three primary goals for the agency is to
strengthen TSA's relationships with stakeholders and the traveling public.
"As first responders, the nation's flight attendants hold a primary stake
in aviation security and are the last line of defense," said Veda Shook,
incoming president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.
Alternative screenings, such as Crew Pass identify authorized and trusted
crew members at security screening checkpoints.
The Crew Pass process utilizes established security clearances that each
aviation employee clears as a condition of employment.
Congress has directed that alternate screening methods include all crew
members, including both flight attendants and pilots.
"Alaska Airlines is in the process of working towards implementing an
alternative system of security screening for flight attendants and pilots,"
Shook explained. "The program highlights the importance of all crew members
working as a security team for the safety of the crew and traveling public.
Alaska Airlines program can serve as a model for the rest of the aviation
For over 60 years,
the Association of Flight Attendants has been serving as the voice for flight
attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on
Capitol Hill. More than 42,000 flight attendants at 21 airlines come together
to form AFA-CWA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the
700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us
AFA US Airways Website
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Help Desk at (480) 693-6029 for assistance. More
information can also be found
AFA Local Numbers
Council 41 DCA 703-212-8090
Council 70 PHL 215-492-0840
Council 89 CLT 704-527-0325
US AIRWAYS Benefits Information 800-872-4780
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