David Stempler, President of the Air Travelers Assoc.

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, February 21, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews. 

TERRY KEENAN, GUEST HOST: As much as the travel business has changed since 9/11, so too has business travel. New government security rules are putting a strain on frequent flyers and first-class travelers. My next guest says that the new rules are not such a great idea. He is president of the Air Travelers Association, David Stempler. David, welcome. Good to have you with us.

I mean, this is what we're reduced to, buying suitcases that have pillows on them so that we can wait out the whole security process. The government took over last weekend, how is it going so far?

DAVID STEMPLER, AIR TRAVELERS ASSOC. PRESIDENT: Well, it's going relatively smoothly. You know, there's a new sheriff in town, but most of the changes have been behind the scenes, and it's not much that passengers will really see. The big changes are going to come in the weeks and months to go during this year, when some of the airports, about 15 airports, are going to change the entire staff over to government workers.

KEENAN: You know, anyone who has had to purchase a business or first class ticket knows that it's those customers that really contribute most to the bottom line of these airlines, yet those travelers, those first class and business travelers, are going to be getting somewhat of the same treatment in terms of going through airport security. Explain.

STEMPLER: Well, there was a new ruling that came down from the Transportation Security Administration, which is this new department of the Department of Transportation, in charge of security, which said, you know those elite special lines you have for your frequent fliers members or whatever, those have got to go. We're a government agency. And you know, it was difficult for a government agency to have lines for have and have-nots. You know, there's no special lines at the DMV. I think they were using that as an example.

KEENAN: That's for sure.

STEMPLER: So those lines have got to go. But from what we have heard this afternoon talking with lots of airlines, they are sort of finding ways around this, Terry.

KEENAN: And you're probably happy with that, because you think that the airlines really need these elite customers, but you know, most of the hijackers, it not all, were traveling first or business class. Isn't it a smart idea to make everyone go through the exact same process?

STEMPLER: Oh, there's no question. There's no avoidance of security. You know, the thing that we're really pushing for, Terry, is this voluntary travelers ID card, where people would submit lots of information about themselves, agree to be checked out, you know, on the watch lists by the FBI and whatever, and they will get this card. They could then go onto the shorter line at the airport, as opposed to getting in with everybody else.

Because you know, Terry, there's two parts to airline security. One is who are you and are you a threat, and the other part is what are you carrying. Everybody has to be checked for what they are carrying. But if we can sort of separate the people who we know from those who we don't know, it would make the job easier.

It's like, you know, if you are looking for a needle in the haystack, it's good to try to get rid of about half of the hay.

KEENAN: All right. I have a feeling that this story is only halfway over, and it will be a while before the airlines figure this whole thing out. Thanks so much, David. David Stempler.

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