Will passengers be clamoring to pay $85.00 for five years of the Pre✓ program offered by the Transportation Security Administration of the United States?
I have used Pre✓ as an elite member of a frequent flier loyalty program, and I must say that it was nice speeding through LaGuardia Airport in New York in fewer than two minutes. No taking off my shoes. No waiting for the passenger in front of me to get his or her act together before going through the airport security checkpoint. No need to “opt-out” and get groped because a walk-through metal detector is used instead of a millimeter wave or backscatter scanning device.
I thought it was great, saying to myself that this is the way one should get through an airport security checkpoint…
…until I realized during my next thought was that this generally was the way passengers went through airport security checkpoints in the past before there even was a Transportation Security Administration.
Has the Transportation Security Administration taken a page from the airlines? Take away a privilege which passengers once regularly enjoyed and keep it unavailable for a period of time; then eventually offer it once again for a fee when this privilege is missed?
I sure wonder how people in the United States would have felt 15 years ago to fill out an application and pay specifically for the privilege of enduring a background check and be fingerprinted — just to pass through an airport security checkpoint like we used to do in the “old days” — before September 11, 2001 when several terrorists armed with box cutters passed through airport security checkpoints to commandeer commercial airplanes containing passengers and use those airplanes as powerful bombs to blow up iconic buildings and kill thousands of people…
…and we certainly do not have to keep in mind that it was actually permitted to carry those box cutters aboard airplanes back then — meaning that no amount of security measures being implemented today would have stopped those box cutters from being carried aboard by potential terrorists.
To think that a controversial announcement released by the Transportation Security Administration earlier this year revealed that pocket knives were amongst a number of items which would have been allowed aboard aircraft.
If I did not know any better, I would suspect that the Transportation Security Administration is becoming more of a business concern than an agency of the federal government of the United States whose main “concern” is for the safety of the traveling public.
FlyerTalk members tend to agree, though — calling this latest move by the Transportation Security Administration “extortion” and paying “‘extra’ to get the type of screening we ALL should be getting anyway.”
Current Pre✓ participants — including those eligible via a Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler Program such as Global Entry — will continue to receive Pre✓ eligibility.
Not all passengers will benefit, however — only American citizens will be permitted to lighten their wallets and purses by $85.00 for a privilege once enjoyed for free. If you are not an American citizen, do not worry. I am rather certain that the Transportation Security Administration will eventually figure out a way for you to purchase the privilege of using Pre✓ — for a significantly higher fee complete with a far more extensive background check, of course.
So tell me: what is the difference in commercial aviation safety between passengers paying $85.00 versus not paying at all for what is essentially the same type of airport security screening as what was considered routine before September 11, 2001?