The Transportation Security Administration says that starting in October, about a quarter of US air passengers will get magically sped through airport security lines. It sounds like a smart idea.
The passengers chosen for the expedited service will not be required to submit personal information beyond that provided when they book their flights.
“To do this, the government and TSA are collecting no new information,” said Joseph Salvator, the TSA’s deputy assistant administrator. “Everything we’re using to make these risk assessments is information that the passengers currently provide the TSA, which is name, date of birth and gender.”
Passengers will not know they have been selected for the faster lines until they receive their boarding pass or, in cases where the designation has been coded, when they present their boarding pass at a security checkpoint.
From there, they will be directed to a line currently reserved for members of the Global Entry program and the TSA’s PreCheck program, and those who fall into exclusive categories, such as frequent fliers, members of the military and passengers older than 75 or younger than 12.
Carry-on luggage will pass through X-ray machines, and passengers will go through metal detectors, but several of the steps that slow lines and frustrate fliers will not be required.
Expansion of the program to randomly selected low-risk passengers is in keeping with the goal of TSA Administrator John Pistole to redirect his agency’s focus toward those who appear to pose the greatest threat.
“It’s our philosophy that one shoe size doesn’t fit everybody,” Salvator said. “When TSA was stood up after 9/11, we treated everybody the same. We’re trying to move off that model and use a risk-based approach and the intelligence we have developed over the years.”
Something tells me that there’s a catch here. Right, it’s the fact that Barack Obama’s government is still running TSA. Obama’s Department of Homeland Security determined in 2009 that people like me are risky — veterans, people who don’t like too much government, and so forth. What are the chances that conservatives get profiled negatively and kept in the slow lanes?
So before I cheer what looks like the first sign of sanity in the TSA since its creation, I’ll wait and see how the new system works.