Soon PreCheck Lanes Will Only Be For Those Who Actually Paid For The Perks

If you’ve ever been randomly plucked out of the ordinary Transportation Security Administration screening line at the airport and ushered through the magical line where you don’t have to take off your shoes or rifle through your bag to pull out laptops and small bottles of liquid, then you know the joy of the PreCheck lane. I hope you enjoyed the free ride while it lasted, because the popularity of the supposed no-hassle line means only paying customers will be admitted from now on.

According to a report from the New York Times, TSA officials say that around 45% of all domestic travelers receive PreCheck; enough to consider the program established and to dial back the number of non-enrolled passengers granted access to the quick-pass lanes.

In fact, the program reached a daily record in July with just more than 1 million of the 2.1 million passengers screened by the agency receiving PreCheck.

“We’ll start pulling back on the number of people who we include on a random, managed-inclusion basis, because we want to, frankly, cater to those who have actually signed up, and who we have the highest confidence in because we know the most about them,” John Pistole, TSA Administrator tells the Times.

That’s probably a welcome change of pace for the 440,000 travelers who actually paid for the PreCheck perks, but routinely find their lines clogged by passengers without knowledge of fast lane etiquette.

Shortly after the program began, TSA set a goal of putting 25% of domestic travelers through the 118 PreCheck lanes across the nation’s airports. But when enrollment centers were slow to bring in new PreCheck travelers, the TSA began allowing more “managed inclusion” – a process in which travelers from the traditional security line were allowed to use PreCheck.

But how exactly does a program that is supposed to be for pre-screened, secure travelers just open its doors to anyone? Apparently through the use of an app called “randomizer,” which is used during peak times when traditional lines are usually congested.

While managed inclusion sped up the process for many travelers, those who paid the $85 fee and went through the (sometimes long) enrollment process for PreCheck often voiced displeasure with other, unaccustomed, travelers who clogged the speedy lanes by continuing to take off their shoes and removing liquids from their bags.

“I would say there’s still some confusion, but not nearly what it was when we first introduced what we called managed inclusion,” Pistole says.

Now that TSA plans to dial down the amount of managed inclusion it allows, the agency is looking to form partnerships with private vendors that can help increase PreCheck enrollment, Pistole tell the Times.

The goal, he says, is to have more and more lanes devoted to PreCheck, so more customers can experience the expedited screening process.

An End to Free Rides Through Speedier PreCheck Security [The New York Times]

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  1. ShadyTrust says:

    What’s the point of having the extra security measures at all if people can pay to bypass them?

    • furiousd says:

      The same logic train that applies to the systems that I’ve worked on for high security facilities such as the Navy, NNSA, ORNL, and TYS apply generally to security in airports and they’re doing the whole thing wrong. In order to ensure security you want to evaluate intent of the travelers. Have several levels of trained persons looking for cues of people that are nervous, angry, scared, or trying to hide any of these emotions. Yes, specifically target the people most likely to be up to no good. As far as scanning equipment is concerned, it’s relatively cheap and fast to do and the way they have it set up is, again, wrong. Have people scanned before getting into an area crowded with other people, I can’t imagine a better spot for an explosive to go off. “Better” in this case being from the perspective of the terrorist. We’re assuming that anyone who wants to cause problems wants to do so on the plane and we assume that’s what we need to clear people for. Realistically someone with nefarious intent can do a ton of damage with the system. It’s unfortunate that instead of being creative and developing a better system, we’re constantly two steps back solving yesterday’s security problems poorly.

      Now, having said a few things about how bad the TSA is at meeting what I assume are reasonable goals for screening passengers and their luggage, I should make mention of additional problems they introduce: added cost and delay for travelers by assuming everyone’s guilty until scanned innocent, theft of property by those with access to your luggage (want to do a carryon so it’s not out of your sight? $25), and finally the general acclimation of the population to constant prying and violation of privacy and person in the name of poorly implemented additional “security”.

    • GoldHillDave says:

      You have to do more than just pay. You have to be prescreened. In a better world we would all be able to do this for free so the TSA could satisfy itself that we aren’t terrorists. Of course, in a better world there would be no terrorists in the first place.

    • furiousd says:

      Apparently you don’t even need to pay, for precheck or a plane ticket, to get onto an airplane