Saturday, March 5, 2016

Another First-Class Line

I had no intention of writing about the concourse-long security lines that have been forming at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport lately. An extra half-hour or 45 minutes of hassle for people who are privileged enough to be spewing carbon with abandon... hmm, doesn't seem like that fits into the list of things I care about.

Except for this: In its story titled Long MSP lines are new normal, the Star Tribune reports the only way to avoid the line is to pay $85:

TSA officials came to Minneapolis this week to market its PreCheck program in hopes of steering passengers out of general lanes and into lanes that provide expedited screening for low-risk travelers. The program allows passengers who pass a background check and pay $85 for a five-year period to bypass standard screening through special lanes that allow them to leave their shoes, belts and light jackets on. Laptops can remain in carry-on luggage, making passing through security faster.

“This is a way passengers can do something proactively at a minimal cost,” Dankers said. The special lanes require fewer staff members and “it increases our efficiency.”....

Dankers said that there are no immediate plans to expand screening staff at MSP and that overtime will be used only when feasible. “That is not the case right now. This is the new norm.”

That’s why she said travelers should consider PreCheck.
So. Let me get this straight. The TSA just spent $17 million in tax dollars to make the lines at the airport worse (though they claimed it would be more efficient). And now they want taxpayers to pony up another $85 every five years so they can be treated the way airports used to treat travelers before September 11, 2001.

If you fly a lot, I suppose $85 spread over all of your flights isn't a lot to add to the ticket price, but damn. This is some racket they've got going. And I wonder if everyone who applies to PreCheck and pays the money gets cleared to use the fast lane, or if having a name like Mohammed makes it just a bit less likely?

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