Last week saw many stories covering the end of “Managed Inclusion” from the TSA PreCheck program. This was the means by which the TSA chose select individuals to receive the expedited screening without having first required that the passenger submit to increased scrutiny and pay for the privilege. And, while some frequent travelers are hailing the move as favorable to them I see it as quite the opposite. This is bad news for everyone, especially those who have paid to have access to the expedited screening.
The TSA is aiming to reach a threshold of 50% of passengers screened using the PreCheck process. With more than 3.6mm travelers enrolled in a Trusted Traveler program the operation is likely to come up short of the 50% target; it is unlikely that half of the ~2mm passengers screened daily are in that pool of 3.6mm people. so that’s bad for the organization, leaving it short of where it should be.
But, more significantly, the TSA staffing of the PreCheck lanes is tied to expectation of the number of passengers using the lanes. Already there are times when too many PreCheck locations or lanes are closed in favor of staffing the regular screening lanes. This move to reduce the number of users of the PreCheck lanes will likely lead to further reduction of the staffing of those lanes. And that’s bad for those in a trusted traveler program who have paid for that background check.
Many have raised questions over the years as to whether “PreCheck is fully effective in directing security resources to unknown or elevated-risk travelers.” In other words, are the correct resources being targeted at the correct passengers in the screening process. Reducing the number passing through PreCheck lanes – including via managed inclusion – reduces the focus of screening against the unknown and higher risk passengers. Oh, and Managed Inclusion apparently is not completely disappearing anyways. Not to mention the reports of passengers without a Known Traveler Number from a trusted traveler program still receiving PreCheck on itineraries after the supposed end of Managed Inclusion.
Those who have paid for PreCheck (and everyone else, really) should be pressing the TSA to increase staffing and availability of the PreCheck lanes at airports, as well as the number of travelers passing through those lanes. It improves the travel experience, increases the screening on those who are more likely to be a risk and generally makes the TSA experience for everyone. I suppose I should not be surprised that’s the opposite of the path the Agency is taking.
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