Monday, October 17, 2011

Enhancing Security through Preferential Treatment

TSA is at it again. They are enhancing Security by reducing privacy and providing preferential treatment to some people.

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today announced that it began testing a limited, voluntary passenger pre-screening initiative with a small known traveler population at four U.S. airports. The TSA PreCheck initiative implements a key component of the agency’s intelligence-driven, risk-based approach to security. This pilot program will help assess measures designed to enhance security by placing more focus on pre-screening individuals who volunteer information about themselves prior to flying in order to potentially expedite the travel experience.
This is apparently an effort to salvage the failed program where travelers paid a fee for expedited clearance.

One of the Airports is Atlanta and one of the Airlines is Delta. I frequently fly to and from Atlanta and just after this pilot program started I flew through the Atlanta airport.

Part 1 -Assured Success

I usually park my car in the Airport Park and Ride and use the South Security Screening Area as it is closer to the first bus stop at the terminal. Delta and TSA have selected this area for im0limenting the pilot program. It should work out well, you see they have dedicated one of the 3 ID check lines for the PreCheck program, and judging by the traffic those traveler should be very expedited, you see there was only about one passenger ever 15 or 20 seconds in that line, meaning the the TSA agent sat there frequently with nothing to do. Of course diverting one third of the passengers using that Check Point into the other lines delayed everyone else.

Part 2 - It Gets Better
I am an Airtran A+ Elite and our company has an A2B Corporate Account.

On Wednesday October 12, 2011 I arrived at the Atlanta airport early for my flight to New Orleans, about 4:15 PM. I parked in the Airport Park and Ride. Since I had my boarding pass and no luggage to check I went to the South Security Screening Area as it was closer to the shuttle bus drop off.

This is the area Delta and TSA are running their pilot PreCheck program in. This is the second time I had been through this check point since the program started and I expected that one line would be dedicated to that program (although very few people seemed to be using it the previous time). I was surprised to see several uniformed Delta Employees pre-checking boarding passes and directing each passenger into one of the three available ID checking lines. I paid little attention at the time, however once I was in line it became apparent that the Delta employees were not merely directing people to the appropriate line but screening passengers and reserving two lines for their preferred passengers. As I result it took me 15 minutes to clear security while two uniformed TSA agents sat in plain sight with virtually no passengers going through their lines. Of course those passengers were "expedited".
Of course diverting two thirds (or more) of the passengers using that Check Point into the other lines delayed everyone else.

As a Corporate customer and as an A+ Elite passenger I am supposed to be eligible for "dedicated check-in lines and security entrances at select airports". In the past I have always been able to access the Preferred check-in lines for airline frequent flyers.

I don't expect any airline to be able to block anyone from using government services we all pay for.


Maitri said...

This is why people curse government and its spending. I've already paid to get GOES Global Entry. In effect, this means all I have to do is wave my passport, get fingerprinted and have a photograph taken and I enter the country from abroad ahead of everyone else, while I am still crotch-groped at domestic airports. Why can't DHS simply merge these two databases since they govern them both?

mominem said...

It looks like they did but only for certain airlines at certain airports.

From the TSA Press Release

"Eligible participants include certain frequent flyers from American Airlines and Delta Air Lines as well as members of the Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS, who are U.S. citizens and are flying on participating airlines."

My real beef with this is that putting "those people" ahead makes everyone else take longer. If "those people" paid to go ahead and it didn't slow everyone else down, I'd be less upset.