Feel-good articles about the TSA’s Pre-Check program continue to proliferate. Even as Pre-Check members report experiencing what we’ve been warning about for a year.
To recap: Pre-Check is a program in which you are supposed to get expedited screening in exchange for paying an extra hundred bucks and giving the government more private information about yourself. “Supposed to” is the operative phrase there. (And it’s still, as I’ve said from the beginning, ethically indefensible: it’s the embodiment of “All Animals Are Equal But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.”)
Because, as we’ve pointed out many times, Pre-Check doesn’t guarantee anything. You aren’t guaranteed expedited screening. You might not have to take your shoes off, you might not have to take your jacket off, you might not have to take your laptop out, you might not get scanned, you might not get groped. Might. The TSA’s own policy states that everyone, including Pre-Check members, can still get “randomly” pulled aside for whatever kind of search the TSA wants to do:
“No individual will be guaranteed expedited screening.”
In addition, Pre-Check works only with certain airlines, at certain airports. So even if you manage to get expedited screening at one airport, you might not get it at another. The airlines, in other words, are complicit. This system rewards — or tries to reward — frequent flyers. It’s about money, not security.
TSA has relied on airlines to nominate PreCheck candidates from among their best customers. Because not all airlines participate, and some consider frequent-flier information secret, a passenger qualifying under one airline can’t use PreCheck if flying another carrier. Agency officials said they don’t have the technical capability now to create a clearinghouse that might resolve the roadblock.
Nevertheless, people continue to sign on in the hope that they’ll be spared the TSA’s abusive practices. And they continue to discover that they can’t. People like Ann Azevedo, who posted this comment at a USA Today story on Tuesday, October 16th, at 8:27 am:
I am a member of TSA Pre, yet 40-50% of the time I am “randomly” deselected and sent through full security screening. Nice when TSA Pre is allowed, but I am really pretty upset about how seldom I’m allowed to use it!
There goes her hundred bucks down the drain.
(Photo: Images_of_Money/Flickr Creative Commons)