Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Security Program from American Airlines

I got a couple of suspicious emails recently. Most of the time my suspicious emails are ridiculously poorly worded spam-shots trying to sell me Viagra (we're sadly long past the time of emails from descendents of African royalty hoping to get access to their rightful fortunes, that was a simpler time), but the emails I got were completely different.

These were from American Airlines, and while that didn't make them suspicious, what did was the vague terms with which they presented their offer. An excerpt:

Due to your status in the AAdvantage® program, you may be eligible to participate in a screening pilot program being tested by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) this fall. The goal of this pilot program is to evaluate expedited screening processes for selected American Airlines travelers through designated security checkpoints at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and the Miami International Airport (MIA).

Some important things to note about participating in the screening pilot program:
- You must be a United States citizen
- There is no charge
- Your eligibility and participation will not necessarily ensure an expedited screening for every flight
- When you opt-in, you give American Airlines permission to share your AAdvantage status and passenger reservation information with the TSA's Secure Flight system
- At time of opt-in, although not required, you will also have the option to share information about your enrollment in U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler Programs such as Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI

Now, there aren't too many things that annoy me more than the current TSA security procedures. I realize it's the comedy equivalent of the squirting boutonniere, so I won't get into too much detail, but the elaborate-ness of the kabuki dance to pretend like it's making us all safer is exactly what makes it annoying.

The belts, and the shoes, and the separate bins for laptops, and the random checks for explosives, and taking the liquid bag out of your carry-on (secret tip: No one in the TSA cares if you leave it in the bag. I haven't taken mine out in years)

It's all a nice idea, until you realize that trying to prevent creative terrorists by implementing measures for things they've already done doesn't stop them from implementing NEW things. But I'm done with caring about the actual effectiveness of airport security, at this point, I really only care about my time and convenience. So American Airlines, consider me intrigued at the prospect of an expedited security process.

I was intrigued enough that I opted into the program, and hope to get the chance to see it when I fly American to Dallas Fort Worth in about a month. Now, unfortunately, the letter was sparse in detail. Expedited means it could be faster, but it doesn't say anything about it being less awkward, invasive, or uncomfortable. Maybe it's a set of probes, just a really fast moving set of probes. We'll have to wait and see about that. But honestly, the freaking backscatter machines already create naked pictures of me every week, so really, how much worse could it be?

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