Cutting in Line
Last time I checked, many months ago, authorities at Reagan National, Dulles and BWI airports were considering a Registered Travelers program -- the mechanism by which you pay about $100, agree to provide info like fingerprints or eye scans, then go through an expedited security line at the airport. Called again today, hoping I hadn't missed any developments, and it seems nothing has changed. In fact, at Dulles and Reagan National, the program seems more uncertain: Last time I talked to them I had the impression they were getting ready to choose a provider. This time, seems like they're back to questioning whether they'll have a program at all.
Any of you out there chafing at the bit?
Frequent travelers I've spoken with who use programs at Albany, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Newark, New York, Orlando, San Jose, Westchester, N.Y., LaGuardia, San Francisco and Reno-Tahoe are gung ho, saying it both saves them time getting through the security line, and saves them time because they can get to the airport later, since they know almost to the minute how long it will take them to get through the line. But airports, and people who haven't bought into the system, seem very skeptical.
First off, does it seem unfair that joining the program gets you faster service? Doesn't seem that way to me -- I'd compare it to choosing to pay a toll to go on a big fast road, rather than taking the slow scenic byway.
But secondly, is being first in line enough of an incentive to lay out $100 a year and go through the pre-screening process?
Some of the companies were hoping their Registered Traveler programs could use an explosives screening device that would mean their customers wouldn't have to take off their shoes, but that isn't working out so well. The major provider is trying out helpers who assist members in getting their stuff in and out of the bins. Surveys of business travelers say that fast lines are most important, keeping shoes on is second, and not having to take the laptop out of its case would be their next-highest priority.
The laptop thing I have yet to understand, anyway: Can't an x-ray machine see through the laptop bag? Be nice if security could figure out a way to remove that requirement.
By Cindy Loose |
September 12, 2007; 7:04 AM ET
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