A recent study finds that offering TSA Pre-check membership to frequent flyers for free could save the agency more money than it currently collects in application fees.
A just-published article in the Journal of Transportation Security has reached some surprising conclusions about how the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) might save money by choosing not to collect some fees from select frequent flyers. According to the journal article, the savings that would result from more business travelers taking advantage of streamlined Pre-check security lines at the airport could easily more than offset the loss of revenue collected by charging members an $85 application fee.
The research conducted by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s (UIUC) Department of Computer Science found that if more passengers could be enticed to undergo the rigorous vetting required to gain TSA Pre-check security, the agency’s day-to-day expenses would likely drop substantially. The academic study by authors Sheldon Jacobson, Arash Khatibi, and Ge Yu concluded that in addition to considerable cost savings, the preemptive move to involve more passengers in the Pre-check program would be a boost to aviation security and would make wait times at the airport shorter for everyone.
“It’s a great way to save money and make the system more safe,” the article’s lead author Sheldon Jacobson told the Chicago Tribune. ”It’s more than just making sure you are a safe traveler. It’s a body of information about you and whether you’re a safe person.”
The publication of the journal article comes just a few weeks after the TSA publicly backed away from ambitious plans to expand the TSA Pre-check program. The agency had hoped to sign up more than 25 million new members before the end of the decade. Officials had hoped that giving passengers more locations at which to apply for mandatory in-person interviews would help to achieve that goal, but security issues led the Department of Homeland Security to scale back those efforts.