TSA to test express lanes for air travelers

This story could come as welcome news if you're fed up with all the hassles that come with air travel in the post-9/11 world. The Transportation Security Administration said today it's going to test express lanes for security screening at four airports. CBS News correspondent Bob Orr takes a look at what that could mean.

For the Transportation Security Administration, the goal is to streamline airport checkpoints by separating some frequent travelers from those passengers the agency knows least about.

"We need to make sure we focus on the highest risks," said TSA administrator John Pistole.

With terrorists still intent on hitting aviation, this approach will leverage limited resources and target the biggest potential threats.

"We want to make sure that those that we know very little about," Pistole said, "that we can focus proper time and attention on them, while at the same time recognizing that virtually everybody who flies is not a terrorist."

TSA offers new screening option for some flyers

The new screening initiative will be phased-in this fall, starting with two airlines at four major airports. Selected frequent travelers boarding Delta Airlines in Atlanta and Detroit and some frequent fliers on American Airlines in Miami and Dallas will be invited to participate -- as will U.S. citizens who've already passed background checks by Customs and Border Protection.

Those passengers will have access to expedited security lanes, but only after providing TSA with additional personal information. For security reasons, the TSA won't say what that is, but sources say it will include numbers, addresses and travel histories.

"If somebody doesn't want to share that information, however basic it may be, that's fine," said Pistole, "they will just go through the normal screening process.

"So the price of participating is I have to give up something?" asked Orr.

"That's right."

The expedited passengers will still go through metal detectors, but may escape more rigorous screening -- for example, those fliers may be able to keep their shoes on and their laptops in their carry-ons.

However, the "pre-clearance" will not be always mean a quick pass through the checkpoints. To keep potential terrorists from exploiting the expedited screening as a loophole, sometimes the pre-screened passengers will still go through a full check.

"There won't be a guarantee," said Pistole. "We will always reserve the right to be random and unpredictable in the way we do our screening so terrorists won't game the system."

This new approach will start small, only benefiting a few thousand passengers each day. But if it works, Pistole wants to expand the concept, calling it a potential game-changer for travelers.