The End of Managed Inclusion is Bad News for TSA PreCheck


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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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

11 Comments

  1. I think you might be missing an important nuance here: sure, “managed inclusion” is dead, but won’t the TSA just keep shoving masses of randomly chosen “regular” flyers into the Pre Check lines at the last minute?” It’s not managed inclusion, obviously, but it does keep the Pre Check lines full.

    Or am I the one missing something?

    1. My read of the new rules is that the only people without KTNs in the lanes are supposed to be those selected by the dogs/BDO folks. And it almost doesn’t matter. They can only dump more people in if the lanes are open. With fewer people scheduled to be in the lanes they’ll be closed more. And that’s shitty.

      1. Well last Monday at PDX they sent the dog through the entire line at 5 am and essentially made everyone PreCheck, although many travelers are so programmed to take their laptops out of the bag and shoes out that it didn’t seem to speed the line that much.

  2. It’s not a good deal at all, definitely. Flew out of Minneapolis on Sunday and their TSA Pre-Check lane was not being staffed. Was told to get into regular line, which looked around 20-30 minutes long. Ugh.

    After starting down into the line, I turned around to ask if any other security checkpoints had the TSA Pre-Check going — was told no. Thankfully, at the moment another agent was walking up and told this other agent to go ahead and let us through the TSA Pre-Check line, if only to bypass the longer regular line. Seemed fair — we did pay for it after all!

    I just hope this doesn’t become the norm.

  3. I finally bit the bullet and paid for my whole family 3 months ago. Althought I get 2 GE credits for free but the other two aren’t. Now they are going to kill one of the true benefits that I paid for. Nice job TSA!

    1. They’re not killing it entirely for you since you’ve paid for the KTN. The real question will be about staffing and how long it is kept at reasonable levels (i.e. lanes are open when you’re traveling).

      1. Agreed, I still have the benefit of GE kiosk the few times a year I travel internationally, though It looks like I may have paid for something that has diminishing value there as well. With Mobile Passport Control, which I just learned of, they (CPB) seem to be offering some of the same benefits for free now. I was expecting to get about 70% of the GE benefit from swifter security lines which sounds like will be a thing of the past, and 30% from the expediency of GE immigration which they now seem to be trying to offer anyone with the app for free. This would be based on how I travel. I understand that MPC is not everywhere yet but it is certainly frustrating to feel like you paid for a benefit to make your travel easier, and CBP/TSA then decide to change policies that negagte what you paid for.

        I have not tried the GE kiosk or MPC yet but I am thinking I may be able to combine them so that I do not have to stand there and answer the immigration entry questions at the kiosk, I can do that on the app on the plane, then submit on the ground. when I arrive at the GE kiosk, scan passport, fingerprints and QR code.

        1. Do remember that GE gets you out of Customs faster, too. That could be more significant that immigration in many locations.

  4. This is exactly what I’ve noticed. Too often at small airports and large I present my PreCheck boarding pass only to hear “We don’t have PreCheck at this checkpoint”; “PreCheck isn’t open right now”; or they may channel me ahead of non-PreCheck members but then require me to go through the whole liquids and shoes and laptop mess. What exactly did people pay for?

  5. Passing through Atlanta last month they’re check lane at international arrivals was closed at 4pm. Very frustrating after paying for the privilege.

  6. It seems like they’re making this all harder than it really needs to be. Time to focus on the process and not just the direction of the line ropes.

Comments are closed.

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