TSA’s new “trusted traveler” program, known as PreCheck, went into effect a few days ago. From the press release, “Eligible passengers may be referred to a lane where they will experience expedited screening.” This pilot program is the long overdue beginning of risk-based traveler assessment. Not surprising, there are many limitations to gain entry into this trial program:
- It is only available to American Airlines and Delta Airlines passengers.
- It is only limited to a few airport hubs (Dallas and Miami for American, Atlanta and Detroit for Delta).
- And only some frequent fliers qualify.
TSA also built in some safeguards. They may at any time change their policy and make this separate line just like all the others. In addition, they do not guarantee that merely because of enrollment in this program that passengers will receive expedited service every time. At some point, I expect them to test this by denying access on a periodic basis. How frequently this occurs will likely determine the program’s success or failure.
I had the opportunity to try out PreCheck last week. Embedded information in the boarding pass barcode directs travelers to an expedited line. Anything metal like change or cellphones are either placed in a carry-on bag or one of the small buckets. Everything else – liquids, shoes, belts, coats, and laptops – remain in the carry-on bag or on your person. It was simply a matter of dropping my carry-on bag on the conveyor belt and walking through the metal detector. Total time to get through the expedited line: less than 60 seconds.
Needless to say, this is a dream for frequent travelers. It was such a pleasant experience that I thought about exiting the security area and going through the line again!
Some frequent travelers I spoke to expressed apprehension, reminding me that one bad apple could ruin this for the lot of us. We would all still walk through security with our shoes on if it weren’t for Richard Reid.
While other passengers may resent this “special” treatment granted to a select few, there is a benefit for them, as well. Moving frequent travelers to expedited lines means shorter lines for everyone else. When this program is successful (crossing my fingers), it will expand to more airports and shorten security lines for even more travelers.
Here’s hoping that the TSA’s new PreCheck program really takes off!
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