Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Update on New Quicker TSA Screening Program

A few weeks ago I wrote about a mysterious email invitation I got from American Airlines to invite me to opt-in to a new airport security pilot program.

The email was vague, but promised the potential for reduced time in security lines at Dallas Fort Worth and Miami airports.

Because I'm flying through DFW in a few weeks, I eagerly accepted.

Today I read an article that provided a little more detail on the program (if unfortunately, no details on what exactly it will involve)

Under the so-called "known traveler" program, some 6,000 to 8,000 frequent flyers at select airports will be directed daily toward dedicated lines that will zip them through security faster than you can get your shoes, coat and watch off and into the bins.

Only a chosen few of frequent flyers from AMR Corp.'s (AMR) American Airlines and Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) and members of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's trusted traveler program are being invited to join the TSA program--for free right now. The pilot program, which is open exclusively to U.S. citizens, will operate only at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, Miami International and Dallas-Fort Worth International airports.

Seems pretty small for now, but the article also mentions they might roll out to more airlines and airports if it works.

Of course, there's the inevitable downside to this program.

Not the fact that you'd need to sacrifice lots of personal information. We're all on Facebook. That ship has sailed.

But the fact that if they try this out and it works, they'll start charging for it.

Also from the article.

TSA's website states that the known-travelers program is a work in progress and evolving as lessons are learned. And while it's free in its test stages, there's little doubt a fee ranging from $100 to $150 for processing to another $100 to $150 in annual or periodic fees will be tied to a full-fledged program. Pistole did not offer costs but noted that the program would include a fee.


But honestly, if airlines can get me to pay for a checked bag, or get me to pay for early boarding (I'm looking at you Southwest), then you can be real sure I'll be first in line for a faster security program, even if it's a couple hundred bucks.

Plus, I bet I'll be able to expense that.

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