For $85, This TSA Program Will Make Flying Suck Just a Little Bit Less


It is common dogma that one of the most tedious aspects of air travel is the security checkpoint. Countless minutes and, in occasional, extraordinarily severe situations, hours are spent in line as travellers lifelessly go through the process's all too familiar motions. The post-9/11 travel experience is even more cumbersome, but travellers dutifully acquiesce, appreciative of the necessity for such precautions.

It often seems, however, that components of the security process are superfluous, or at least for the average, non-threatening traveller. In 2005, as a nine-year-old with a broken wrist on my way to a family vacation, I was subjected to minutes of extra security procedures to ensure that I wasn’t hiding anything dangerous in my neon pink cast. The TSA should do what it needs to maintain security, but it is reasonable that they scale back where possible. A previously limited initiative, which the TSA is now extending, to expedite the airport security process is a common sense approach that should increase efficiency while maintaining, and perhaps even enhancing, safety.

The initiative is the TSA Pre√ program, which was established in 2011 for selected airlines and their frequent-flyer customers. If qualifying customers fill out an online application, provide necessary identification (including fingerprints) to a TSA Pre√ enrollment center, and submit to a background check, then they may enjoy an expedited security process.

Travellers involved in the Pre√ program go through a special security line, and one that allows them to keep their shoes, belts, and jackets on as well as leave liquids and laptops in their bags instead of putting them in separate bins.

These little measures often exacerbate the time spent in the security line, and their absence would undoubtedly curtail travel time.

Finally, no longer are only select, frequent flyer customers allowed to opt into this program. For a nominal fee of $85, which is a small price to pay to lessen the air travel process for five years, a traveller may apply to the program. Assuming the customer’s background does not provoke particular caution from the TSA, then the customer will be able to enjoy less scrutiny in the airport security line.

After years of increasing the regulations on air travel, it is a relief that the TSA is adapting moderate, sensible initiatives to ease the process. That said, safety is and ought to remain a priority, regardless of what the inconveniences in a security checkpoint might be.