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Travel Agents Can Be First Line of Defense in Air Safety
FAIRFAX, VA - November 16- The nation's 25,000 travel agents can be the first line of defense in air travel safety but their capabilities are being ignored by the airlines and the government according to Gloria Bohan, president of Omega World Travel, Inc., one of the ten largest travel agencies in the U.S.
"We know all our customers because we deal with them personally," Bohan said at her headquarters today. "The selling of tickets via the web and other anonymous means allows anyone to buy a ticket and get on an airline without any type of screening. Freedom of movement may be one of the most basic of rights in a democracy but the time has come to consider curbs on that as it relates to air travel," she said. "It's becoming too dangerous to let people board airplanes without any checking into their backgrounds or the purpose of their flights," she added.
Bohan pointed out that travel agents have profiles of their customers that go back "for years"and that travel agents practice a rule that is well known on Wall Street - "know your customer."
Brokerage houses for many years have operated under the Security & Exchange Commission ruling that the financial institutions must be intimately acquainted with their customers.
Bohan, who has headed her agency for nearly 30 years, noted that most business travel agencies have written agreement or contracts with corporations and organizations. Profile information is contained in computer reservation systems and can be accessed by certified security and airline personnel. Additionally, travel agents can flag electronic tickets with a designation that identifies the traveler as a repeat business traveler. This could save time and enhance security checks allowing for business travelers to be screened separately. Lines could be more manageable and business travelers would be more willing to fly again.
Such a system would complement a government issued traveler identification card, which Bohan proposes would be an excellent idea that frequent travelers would embrace. On that subject she suggests that eligibility for the card would have to include references by three entities vouching for the traveler, such as the traveler's employer, the travel agency, and a notary or lawyer.
Bohan says that it is time for the airlines to acknowledge that the agency community can and should play a vital role in security. Use of the travel agency profile systems can do the following:
• Enhance security checks
• Organize the security process
• Involve the agency community which already complies with strict airline enforce
rules and use sophisticated technology. Agencies are approved by the carriers and Amtrak
• Make flying convenient for the business traveler who is deterred by long waits
• Enable security to identify infrequent travelers
• Break down the security process into smaller parts
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About Omega World Travel
Omega World Travel is a woman-owned, diversity supplier, and one of the largest travel management companies in the US. With worldwide headquarters in Fairfax, VA, Omega serves corporate, government, meeting, and leisure clients throughout the US., Europe, and the Middle East. Omega World Travel also owns Cruise.com, one of the largest sellers of cruises on the Internet, and TravTech, a software development company and Omega Meetings and Conference services.