TSA Precheck: $100 application fee to skip the song and dance

The TSA has announced a new program rolling out at a few airports that allows selected customers to skip the security lines by checking in at a kiosk and going through a nominal screening, but only after they've paid a $100 application fee and been approved through a background check. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Transportation Security Administration is rolling out expedited screening at big airports called "Precheck." It has special lanes for background-checked travelers, who can keep their shoes, belt and jacket on, leave laptops and liquids in carry-on bags and walk through a metal detector rather than a full-body scan. The process, now at two airlines and nine airports, is much like how screenings worked before the Sept. 11 attacks.

To qualify, frequent fliers must meet undisclosed TSA criteria and get invited in by the airlines. There is also a backdoor in. Approved travelers who are in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's "Global Entry" program can transfer into Precheck using their Global Entry number.

 I can't quite decide whether this is the TSA finally getting their shit together to put things back to normal with some intelligent screening practices that inexplicably can't be covered by the same budget that bought all those scanners, or if it's boldly admitting to the world that it's all been a horrific charade. Let's see what the TSA blog has to say about it:


Are you all "rararar why is this gif here i don't understand humor"? Here's a thorough explanation.


    1. Sounds like the rich can do whatever they want and the poor get screwed. Someone still want to pretend the US is a class-less society ?

      1. The TSA management assumes that the rich never believed the security theater nonsense anyway, so it’s fine for them to pay extra not to play the game. If the price bothers you, you weren’t part of the intended audience.

        And it’s not the first time they’ve done this – they’ve had several different “Clear card” and “Trusted Traveller” programs that all fizzled out before.

        1. They were third party servicers before, though.

          Clear lanes are coming back in style, too: http://upgrd.com/blogs/friendlyskies/clear-is-coming-to-dallas.html

        2. the rich have their own airplanes. This is theater for the proles who need to be kept thinking they’ve got a leg up and a prayer of “making it”

      1.  Not sure  how true this is. Wasn’t there a “Steve Jobs flying back from Japan had to leave his Ninja Stars behind” story not too long ago? How often do you fly private jets?

        1. Apparently the truth of that story is questionable. Although also apparently, Kansai airport does enforce the same regulations for passengers boarding private jets as for everyone else (source: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/steve-jobs-ninja-star-shuriken,11291.html

          However, in the U.S., this is not generally the case. The TSA wanted to have private plane passengers pass a background check, but still didn’t want them physically screened. Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/story?id=5999405&page=1 That article is from 2009 when they first proposed the program.

          I found a 2011 article confirming that there was still no required security for private jets: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/private-plane-public-menace/8335/

        2. The TSA once proposed in 2008 running a one-time, good-for-a-lifetime name check on private jet passengers against terrorist watch lists (as opposed to us “commoners” who get checked every time), but I’m not sure even that ever got implemented. There’s never been a security checkpoint where you’re physically searched before boarding a private jet, however.


          1. But on a private plane, the only other passengers you could hurt are people you know anyway and could hurt as easily on the ground. The public harm you could do would be crashing the plane on purpose and how could a physical screening keep someone from doing that?

          2. The whole point of all of this mess is to limit the damage to ground objects like the WTC, not to make it safer for people on the plane. So, yes, it’s ridiculous.

          3. Right, but isn’t a commercial plane just a really big and crowded private plane? Why would the feds insist on checking one but not the other? Shouldn’t that be the airlines’ problem and the passengers’ choice? As you say, there’s nothing that prevents somebody from chartering a nice big plane for $1ook and reenacting you-know-what.

          4. @twianto:disqus  – Right, but isn’t a commercial plane just a really big and crowded private plane?

            Maybe if you’re mitt romney, and your friend owns the airline.

            Otherwise, no, not at all.

          5. Isn’t the purported reason for all this recent ‘security’ silliness to protect the public from a potential flying bomb? How the hell are private and commercial planes any different in this regard? If airlines (or airports) feel that they need security measures they can get them (better ones than what the TSA provides, which shouldn’t be hard). IOW, what any other transportation business does if they think the circumstances call for it.

        3. I’m sorry, i thought this story was about the USA. Of course your changing the context makes you right. Just like it always does.

    2. Generally, the airlines are inviting their big spenders, who tend not to be first class uber rich people but rather long-haul business travelers who fly a lot.

      How much? At least 100,000 qualifying miles a year.

      Sound like a lot? There’s over 250 of them on FlyerTalk who flew that much last year on United alone. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/united-mileageplus-consolidated/1293372-end-2011-eqm-rankings.html

      1. 100,000 miles isn’t really that much.  Spend half a year consulting on the other coast of the US and you can rack that much up in weekly roundtrips alone.  For a serious road-warrior two cross-country flights a week is a pretty light load, so they’ll hit the magic 100k even earlier.

        -abs doesn’t consult these days, but in his youth he did, and he hit well over 100k in just a few months (after which he enjoyed his free upgrades to first class very much, thank you)

        1.  “Spend half a year consulting on the other coast of the US and you can rack that much up in weekly roundtrips alone.”

          That sounds like a lot of flying to me.

          1. As a consultant working overseas, I regularly racked up over 100,000 miles each on two different airlines.  I’ve cut back to a slightly more sane 50-100,000 miles a year now.  
            I got a free membership in “clear” a few years ago and all it did was let you skip to the front of the line and have a somewhat cute “helper” assist you with the shoes off, laptop out rigmarole.  No real value to me at all.
            Not holding my breath that TSA will do a reasonable job on this – they don’t exactly have a good track record

          2. I don’t disagree that it’s a lot of flying Mark.  I just assert that “a lot” is a subjective judgement and that in the past I didn’t think 100k was “a lot”, even if I do now.

            -abs is disappointed in how valueless the membership in “clear” is (according to Iqaluit), but he always really felt the real benefit was the free upgrades and the access to the early check-in lines at the gate

        2. I had my road warrior days myself, but, given the nature of my engagements (usually 2-3 weeks), I never racked up 100k.

          The four people who racked up 400k miles or more, I think pretty much everyone agrees they fly a lot.

    1.  That’s a nice departure time for the flight you were plannin’ to get on.  Be a shame if somethin’ happened to it.

  1. Dean–

    Big surprise! I’m already pre-approved for this. If you have an American Express Platinum Corporate card, AMEX will pay the $100 for you. The process is pretty wacky — you create an online account, give them a bunch of trivial background info and then they schedule you an appt for screening and finger printing. You get into the Global Traveller program first and then when the TSA opens this up, you are pre-approved. I’ve already given my regular airlines my member number and am waiting to see what its like. They told me the anticipated reduction in wait time for Pre travelers is 1 min wait for every 10 a regular traveller waits.

    We shall see!

    1. If they want a reference, have them call me. I’ll vouch for you. You’re a pretty cool guy who doesn’t afraid of anything and a credit to the team.

          1. Yes, just in case they check Jason’s blog comments, and who’s been around him. You never know what “TSA page-ranking” bots could come up with. Who knows how many degrees separate you from some shady characters. Good luck surrendering your freedom for 9 minutes.

          2. http://boingboing.net/2007/04/24/canadian-professor-d.html

            “Vancouver psychotherapist Andrew Feldmar has been barred from entering the United States. The reason? During a random stop-and-search at a US/Canadian border crossing, a Google search of his name led to his article from the Spring 2001 ‘Janus Head: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature, Continental Philosophy, Phenomenological Psychology, and the Arts.’ In it Feldmar describes two acid trips he took under the supervision of his graduate advisor in psychology — in 1967. This turns out to have been enough to earn him a life-time ban under the grounds of ‘admitted drug use.’

    2. You have to agree to be fingerprinted ? Well, I guess that’s one way to build a national biometric database.

      1. The US has been fingerprinting non-resident foreigners for years. I guess if it works for evil would-be invaders it should work for Americans too?

        (Bonus points: even if your own government doesn’t collect your fingerprints, if you’ve ever visited a country that fingerprints foreigners there’s a good chance that country will share your data with your government. Yes, it really does happen.)

        1. I’ve been fingerprinted several times for various reasons, like getting a clearance for a real estate license. I had to go to a police station and have a LiveScan. It goes directly to the FBI. The second time that someone asked me to get a LiveScan, I pointed out that my prints are already on record. Apparently, the FBI’s record-keeping is so poor, they can’t even find the damn things. Like all the rest of it, it’s just theater.

      2. You’d think they would be asking for dental records as well.  Those are much more likely to survive the flaming wreckage of crashing the plane in one’s terror plot.

    3.  I’ve worked in education and in youth groups.. and have been subsequently fingerprinted and repeatedly background checked (FBI, etc)… I wonder why that can’t just share that data?

  2. Here’s an idea: Charge $1,000 instead, for every single flight, with the same pre-approval process.  Have a special, separate line for the VIPs. I’m sure there are plenty of 1%er’s who would happily pay an extra $1,000 to bypass the security line and be made to feel they are getting special treatment.

    It’s like an extra voluntary tax for the 1%. And the rest of us benefit by getting shorter security lines (because the 1%er’s are in the other line) and the revenue brought in can help balance the budget.

    1. One of these articles actually mentions that until they get more equipment in, creating the new line actually makes the old line take even longer because of the separation of resources.


      1. I don’t… how does…

        This process has preformed an illegal function and must be terminated. 

  3. I can’t quite decide whether this is the TSA finally getting their shit together to put things back to normal with some intelligent screening practices that inexplicably can’t be covered by the same budget that bought all those scanners, or if it’s boldly admitting to the world that it’s all been a horrific charade.


    Assuming it’s one of those two possibilities seems highly charitable… given what I’ve gathered re:TSA, any amount of charity employed in the scrutiny of  that organisation is quite obviously unwarranted.

  4. “I can’t quite decide whether this is the TSA finally getting their shit together…”

    Right. We should all somehow now be GRATEFUL to our crotch-groping overlords for allowing us to opt back in to our dignity… for a nominal fee of course.

    1. Sort of like paying to buy a “smart” phone, then paying monthly for service/data, then getting ads sent directly to your screen for “free.”  It makes sense (when you live in the realm of the bloodsuckers).

  5. The longstanding problem with pre-approvals like this is that it’s not terribly hard to get someone to do something they wouldn’t normally do.  Mr. Road Warrior might be on ten flights a week, love apple pie, and really benefit from this, but if you kidnap his kids he’ll carry anything through that you tell him to.  I’m not a fan of anything the TSA has done since its creation, but if one believes that the current screening procedures have value, then they need to be applied to everyone to retain that value.

    1. Not if their value is to instill fear which requires a level of gullibility anyway, I would have thought. Then again they might catch some terrorists mightn’t they?

    2. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us. You think the FBI doesn’t read boingboing comments?

  6. Please fix the headline. The $100 is for the existing Global Entry program. This new one is free, but invitation only, although Global Entry participants get in on it too.

    I’m no fan of the TSA, but not getting your facts straight doesn’t do us any good.

    1. After my 15th opt-out (okay, I’m not sure of the exact number, but it’s in that ballpark), I plonked down the $100 just for the *chance* to have a shorter process.

      1. ‘Security’ you mean? It’s all theatre anyhow and it’s been show n time and again getting things through is on the whim of whoever does the crotch grab.

      2.  Believe it. Explain to me why  TSA singles out women young and old and let men walk right on past the body scans and pat downs.

          1. Don’t forget the semi-successful underwear bomber… didn’t actually go boom, but still got thru all security checks just fine. Male, but still hid the bomb near his ‘bumpy’ bits – at least they were bumpy before he nearly burned them off.

    1. I have an AMEX platinum card. I’ve had an AMEX platinum card for decades. Anyone can get an AMEX platinum card.

      1. Well, not that there’s a huge risk from terrorism in the first place, but Awlaki was a US citizen.

  7. Hello boys and girls, today’s special word is “extortion”. Can you say “extortion”? This is when some very nasty people promise to be extremely bad to you and your family unless you give them lots of money. And, yes, “extortion” is a very, evil crime – unless you work for the goverrnment. Then it’s known as “business as usual”.

    1. Fun note: Mr. Rodgers never actually said ‘can you say x’ due to believing it was insulting his audiance.

        1. Funny. I don’t remember making a crappy Ubuntu derivitive lately.

          Now where’d my tequila go?

  8. This has been covered; it’s pre-screening for terrorists, to find out who can get on a plane to cause mayhem.

  9. On the cost…Meh.  It’s about the same as you’d pay for a background check for a concealed carry permit, and I’d expect it’s about  the same amount of work.  Honestly, if they wanted to extort money they’d be charging 4-10 times more.

    On the idea…wow, this is just catastrophically stupid.  I’m picturing something about as difficult to counterfeit as a Social Security card, probably about as fragile.

    Thing to remember, all the 9/11 hijackers had valid ID’s and were in the country legally.  All this “ID Check” and “name must match ticket” stuff is just to prop up the airlines, otherwise you’d be buying all your plane tickets on Craigslist, like you do everything else.

    1.  There’s a difference between paying for a concealed carry permit and just wanting to get on the plane without the full body scan and pat down. Like: why pay if you’re not carrying (which would seem to be more of a possible threat) and you’re just another one of the dumb herd?
      Who knows, maybe TSA will raise the fee as they see fit like gas prices. Seems low now but give them a few years.
      Right on about the TSA charade. It’s an industry now and won’t go away for a long time to come.

    2. For Global Entry: There is no card. Your passport is flagged. You put it into the scanner, put your finger in the marked place, and the biometrics should match up.

      For PreCheck – your TSA number is entered in with your airline  (there’s a spot in your profile for it now for domestic airlines) and, when the TSA scans your boarding pass, it *may* direct you to another line. You don’t know until that point that you will get the fast lane or not. So there’s no separate ID afaik.

      Arguably, this is better security thinking than they’ve had in the past, though I don’t know about the implementation details.

  10. I don’t think I’m getting the joke at the end of the story. Why is “TSA precheck” circled in red? Is it something about the circled text that’s causing that guy in the chair to flail around like a zombie?

    1. Read it again—it doesn’t say “TSA Precheck.” It says “TSA Pre(cutesy little graphic of a check mark)™”. As if they haven’t heaped enough insults on our dignity and intelligence already. *sob*

      1. Why is abbreviating a word with a symbol that stands for that word “cutesy”? That seems no different from, say, slashfilm using a logo that looks like “/Film”, or google plus being written as “google+”.

          1. The Joke Explained by Dean Putney

            The author (me) sets up the joke by wondering aloud if the TSA’s institution of this new service is all part of a larger joke, or charade. Upon checking the TSA’s official remarks on the subject, the author discovers that “Precheck”, as referenced everywhere else, is not the official name of this new service, but rather the TSA introduced it as TSA Pre✓™. And they even took the time to trademark it.

            No one will ever refer to this service in writing as TSA Pre✓™ except to express the total absurdity of the service being called TSA Pre✓™. The character, unlike the slash and plus mentioned earlier, is difficult to type out. The most inconvenient organization names something that is inherently inconvenient! It’s a joke in itself. Therefore the service’s name, being absurd, hints that the service (and therefore the TSA itself) is also absurd. This causes the flailing, angry reaction in the GIF.

            Additionally: GIFs are funny, and I like them, so whatever.

          2. Are you all “rararar why is this gif here i don’t understand humor”?

            The Joke Explained by Dean Putney

            I hope you’ve learned your lesson about not getting jokes, you monster.

      2. For mathematicians and physicists, TSA Pre$sqrt{}$texttrademark is a reasonable facsimile.  Pronounced “pre-squirt”.

    2. I’m with you.  I didn’t really get it.  It kinda looked like the animated gif was part of the press release itself, which was just weird.

      1. I thought it was simply Dean freaking out over this institutionalized bit of nonsense.  It is funny too.

  11. And the farce continues. I’m surprised the TSA goons don’t make it opt-out – pay $100 for the *privilege* of having naked pictures taken and being groped or else you don’t get to fly at all.

    1. My suspicion is that people are being given the opportunity to pay the TSA $100 to crawl up their butts. Srsly, I bet you have to give them all your passwords, or you’re not allowed to refuse the scanner, or something like that.

  12. This is the way the security freakout ends – with neither a bang nor a whimper but with a move that manages to combine face-saving, money-grubbing, and a return to near pre-911 normalcy while continuing to screw over anyone poor or otherwise marginal enough that the TSA doesn’t need to give a shit.

    It’s almost brilliant, in a horrible way. 

  13. So if you get to skip the scanners does that mean you just send them naked pictures of yourself in the mail as part of the application process?

  14. I cannot stop giggling at the GIF in juxtaposition to the TSA Pre Chex logo.  It may be the late hour.

  15. Pre(checkmark)™ ???????????

    Seriously?  Is a checkmark even an enforceable trademark?  Can the government own a trademark?

    1.  Oh wow.  I just learned that non-conventional trademarks can include scents and textures.   I wonder if anyone has trademarked the feeling of love…  I guess lust would be worth more money.

        1.  I was going to trademark ambivalence a couple of years ago, but then I thought to myself, “meh, whatever.”

          1. Really sorry, I’ve tried to give up the pedant thing but the ambivalence thing still bothers me because it completely changes the meaning of the word.
            If you were ambivalent about trademarking ambivalence then you should have vacillated between “definitely yes” and “definitely no”, not between “eh, maybe” and “fuck it”.

    2. The more I look at the check mark the more I think Nike might have a case of infringement…

    3. A trademark can be any phrase, symbol or distinct quality used to distinguish a brand from its competitors. So the TSA isn’t asserting trademark over the check itself but the phrase “TSA Pre✓”.

      Frankly I doubt they’d have any trouble defending this one in court simply because I can’t imagine anyone else wanting to use such a stupid idea.

  16. The TSA can ™ things? This I did not know. TSA Pre✔™. Look how much time that ✔ saved, we should definitely ™ that. We will be obviously able to #DefundTheTSA since now they will be coasting on all the Trademark royalties.

  17. When the time comes to fly to the US, I’m going north or south and driving in. And out.

    Although who knows what sort of other hassles that’ll create…

    1. You don’t get TSA at land borders, but you do get customs, and they can be just as bad as at an airport and worse than the TSA because they have real power. And your plan of flying in to Canada or Mexico rather than directly into the US will almost certainly be suspicious to them, and you will get secondary screening – which you might have avoided entirely if arriving at a US airport.

      And trust me, you do not want the customs secondary screening – they probably won’t grope you but they have the power to do whatever they want, and can do strip-searches and anything else they wish, not to mention confiscating and copying your computer and mobile device hard drives – which you’ll never get back. Customs and border areas are Constitution-Free Zones™.

  18. Sooo, to play devil’s advocate: the prize tag for hijacking a plane is now set at 100$. That’s quite  a bargain if you ask me.

    Like ry4an summed it up: “If one believes that the current screening procedures have value, then they need to be applied to everyone to retain that value”.

    Contrarywise, if one believes that this “Global Entry program” actually works, then there is no reason NOT to make it mandatory for everyone and fund it from the money you save by scrapping the the current screening procedures.

    Bottom line: the TSA freely admits that it has been a farce all along, but will continue doing it anyway. Lovely.

  19. The $100 is trivial compared to the possibility of being able to be normal again as a family going on a trip.  I registered.  It wasn’t hard.  The only difficulty was the web form, which kicked me out a couple times and I had to backtrack to where my application left off.

    1. The question should not be if the price is trivial or not. The question should be why there is a price tag on it at all if it saves time, and thus money per passenger screened.
      Additionally: what r4yan and Eeyeore X said.

    2. The $100 is trivial compared to the possibility of being able to be normal again as a family going on a trip.

      I suppose that depends on whether you’re a poor person or not.

      1. The poor people I know have $100.  And the really REALLY poor wouldn’t be in an airport taking a trip anyways.  They’d be at the bus station.

        1. The poor people I know have $100.

          If they’re poor, they probably have more immediate and pressing needs for that $100 than retaining their dignity during air travel.

          And yes, poor people do fly on occasion. Even a minimum-wage kitchen worker might splurge on a ticket if that’s what it takes to visit a dying parent.

          1.  All I’m saying is paying $100 for something doesn’t make me or anyone else rich.  $1000, yes probably.  $10k or $100k, definitely.

          2. @awjt:disqus :

            All I’m saying is paying $100 for something doesn’t make me or anyone else rich.

            And all I’m saying is that $100 is far from a “trivial” amount to spend on a matter of personal convenience if you are poor. Clearly this policy was not conceived with the needs of poor people in mind. But then again, what is?

      2. One could argue that poor people fly infrequently enough that this program doesn’t really matter.

          1. My hero!

            When your knee spasms subside, perhaps you can try to find a single example of a person who both flies relatively frequently and can’t afford the $100 one-time fee for the possibility of using the faster line.

          2. @taintofevil:disqus : Right, because basic human dignity should be reserved for people who can afford to fly frequently.

            You do realize we’re talking about a government agency tasked with public safety and not a part of the service industry, right? You shouldn’t be able to buy hassle-free treatment from the TSA any more than you should be able to pay off the local cops to stop pointing their radar guns at your car when you drive by.

            If the old fashioned screenings are safe enough for frequent flyers then they should be safe enough for everybody.

          3. @boingboing-d14fe370bdf1664c34b258d65f8d3507:disqus  : I’m not trying to defend the stupid program or anything to do with the TSA.  I just thought you sounded like a twit trying to drag imaginary poor people into it.

          4. @taintofevil:disqus :

            I just thought you sounded like a twit trying to drag imaginary poor people into it.

            Yes, because it’s pure fancy to believe that someone might board an airplane at some point in their lives and yet not have enough disposable income to drop a Benjamin for the privilege of not getting groped. I might as well be talking about mermaids and unicorns, right?

          5. @boingboing-d14fe370bdf1664c34b258d65f8d3507:disqus : 

            Yes, because it’s pure fancy to believe that someone, who is a frequent flyer, and concerned about millimeter wave scanners, might board an airplane at some point in their lives and yet not have enough disposable income to drop a Benjamin for the privilege of possibly, depending on the whim of the TSA agents, not getting groped. I might as well be talking about mermaids and unicorns, right?

            Yes, exactly.

    3. I agree with much of the spirit of all the discussion above.  However, it stands to reason that travel by flying has ALWAYS been about class.  It’s always been considered the privilege of the few rather than the right of the many to fly.  I’m not saying that’s right.  I’m not saying it should always stay that way.  I’m not judging people.  

      I AM saying that I was presented with a possible way to make flying easier for my family, because all the security is a drag, and so I’m going to jump at that opportunity.

  20. Does this replace the Global Entry program? Yes, it’s unfair. Yes it’s annoying. But to be honest I went ahead and paid up for it because I fly a lot for work and it’s nicer this way. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it has always been an admission that the whole stupid mess is useless.

    1. This program and the Global Entry program are completely different things, though Global Entry also gets you TSA Precheck.

      For Global Entry, it allows someone coming back from a non-US destination to clear immigration and customs quickly.

      TSA Precheck gives someone the chance (it’s not a certainty) to go through security screening checkpoints at domestic airports more quickly.

      You can’t, for obvious reasons, use both programs on the same flight, though there’s the possibility if you have a domestic connecting flight when you’re arriving  from a non-airside-connected terminal on an international flight, you might be able to use both on the same itinerary.

      Global Entry’s also available to some non-US Citizens; TSA Precheck is not.

  21. I have a Nexus card, which I believe is more stringent than Global Entry (perhaps it isn’t, I don’t know).  I lived in Canada for a few years and crossed the border enough on business to get my employer to pay for it.  It was a $50 application fee, good for a ten-year enrollment, and it sounds a lot like the Global Entry program, but it also added iris scans.  My eyeballs get me through both US and Canadian borders with no ID or other checks.  I have to declare just like anyone else, and they have the right to stop or question me and check ID, but in practice, I’ve never seen it happen.  The background check took months, though that could have been mostly due to their backlog.  ID, work permit, interview, fingerprints, and iris scans later, I am good to go.  No DNA, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they go there (only being a little bit serious, mostly sarcastic).

    The key point of enforcement for most people is that being able to use the program is a privilege and not a right.  Regular border crossers who make a mistake in their declarations are still judged at the discretion of the agent who is reviewing their entry and documents.  If a Nexus card holder makes a mistake in their declarations, they are immediately fined the statutory amount, and are subject to a possible lifetime ban from the program.  People who have the card are generally so appreciative for not having to spend time in the long lines (can be 30 minutes or more, have seen 90 minutes), that they are very careful in their declarations in order to not lose their status as a Nexus approved traveler.

    If I recall, I am eligible for the Global Entry program as well.  That reminds me, I should update my new address with the Nexus folks.  They might be upset if I don’t keep them up to date.  ;)

    Did I give up some privacy for the privilege?  Sure.  Was it worth my time? Certainly.  Do I think they’re going to do something horrible with my information?  Not likely.  I’m as paranoid as the next guy, but I’m not interesting or important enough for it to matter.  Do i think this is the kind of information that the government should have on every citizen?  Absolutely not.  As part of a voluntary program, it’s fine.  If it were required, I would be writing my elected officials and raising awareness to stop it.

    1. I have a Nexus card too and it was a life saver when I was traveling regularly across the border.  However, it always amuses me that both US and Canadian customs and immigration trust me (and have vetted me) enough to essentially walk across the border but the TSA still wants to paw through all my stuff and assume I’m a criminal.
      Some logical disconnect there.  I’m guessing that training for an immigration officer is a little more stringent than for a TSA worker, and I’d like to think that border control is more important than whether or not my shampoo is 4 rather than 3 fl oz.

    2. You are also eligible for Global Entry. If flights to Canada weren’t so expensive right now, I’d be applying for Nexus, too, though I honestly don’t travel to Canada all that frequently.

      1. Most Nexus-card-carriers are people who drive across the border. It’s a big deal for people from Toronto and southern Ontario who come here to Buffalo for cheap shopping (one of the main reasons Buffalo’s economy is still afloat – seriously), and anyone who goes back and forth frequently for whatever reason (my grandmother has a cottage on Lake Erie on the Canadian side, for example, and has the card).

        When I’ve lived in WNY I went to Canada maybe two times a year so I wouldn’t bother. I am going soon for the first time in a while (I’ve been living in California for a few years) and will just wait in the ridiculous lines like most people.

        If I get accepted to the University of Toronto for grad school, which is my plan, then I will almost certainly apply for the card. I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that I might get denied after a background check. I haven’t actually ever done anything, but I always get a really hard time at customs (at the Canadian border or at airports coming back from travel abroad) once they look me up in their computer. They’ve got me flagged, apparently.

  22. It’s a well established principle of running any sort of jail or prison: to keep the prisoners from rebelling against the guards, keep them fighting among each other. One simple way to do that is arbitrarily give little perks to certain inmates at the expense of others. It makes it look like they are snitches, and turns the rest of the population against them.

     The TSA was never *just* about security theater, they’re mostly a training ground for the new brownshirts.

  23. $100 – Precheck program: reduced screening
    $500 – Super-Precheck program: no screening.
    $1000 – Preferred Traveler program: no screening, access to the elite TSA Lounge, your own set of limited-edition blue rubber gloves, and a TSA-curated selection of the hottest body scanner images, mailed to your email address once a month
    $10,000 – Ultra Traveler program: all above benefits, plus the Droit de Seigneur privilege, which allows you to visit a TSA screening facility and conduct your own “enhanced patdowns” and cavity searches of plebeians of your choice (up to 5 per visit).

  24. The post headline here (and at Slashdot, and likely many other places around the web) is incredibly misleading.

    The TSA isn’t charging anyone anything for reduced screening. They’ve created a program where airlines can invite people to participate (we can certainly argue about whether this is fair), *and* they’ve said that people who’ve already been screened through USCIS trusted traveller programs (Global Entry and NEXUS, e.g.) can use the reduced screening lanes as well. Global Entry ($100) and NEXUS ($50) have been around for years and require background checks and in-person interviews before you’re in the program.

    I fail to see why people get all in a tizzy about GE and NEXUS folks being able to quality for reduced screening. If USCIS has vetted people to the extent that they’re happy allowing you trivial entry into the United States, surely that’s enough of a check that you don’t need to be strip searched every time you fly on a plane? My NEXUS card recently expired (they’re good for five years). I filed for renewal and despite the fact that I’ve been fingerprinted more times than I care to count by USCIS, they’re still requiring a complete application review, new background check, and in-person interview.

    Also note that just because you’ve been approved for PreCheck doesn’t mean you always get to use the reduced screening lanes. It’s at the discretion of the TSA on a per-flight basis, so you can randomly be selected for regular lines. This is similar to NEXUS: even though I’ve crossed the border many, many, times, I still occasionally get pulled out for scecondary screening for no apparent reason.


  25. The ™ symbol is really, really gross in this context. The TSA is a governmental agency perpetuated, ostensibly, to ensure the safety of airflight. The implication that they are “selling” me a trademarked product gives me that ol’ skeevy feeling. Also, if I’m not entirely mistaken that should be (SM), not (TM)?

    As has been noted many times, everything about this is just crass and ridiculous.

  26. I have access to the pre-check program because I’m enrolled in Global Entry (which definitely cuts down on the time to get back into the country). I flew out on Monday morning from ATL, and the pre-check line was easily three times as long as the regular line.

    So, I think that answers the question of “will the TSA totally botch this”.

  27. I’m really glad the U.S. isn’t a third world country where you can pay off the police to leave you alone if you’re rich enough… oh wait.

  28. Driving takes longer, but is SO much more relaxing… and can be done intentionally… AND the cost for two people or three people or more can be shared in a car MUCH more effectively than in an airplane.


  29. My old man use to go to Florida every winter for audio electronic conventions where he made sale deals for Canadian distribution. After 2001 he was asked a question he never encountered before at US boarder check. “Ever been convicted of a crime?” He choked and said yes, back in 1969 during university studies…. he use to have a corvette stingray he eventually sold to save his license, he says, as the police were always pulling him over for speeding. Anyhoo, the whole remember those hippie days long hair? Biting you in the ass now? He gave up the business and retired, in hindsight, much to his delight and the old lady too. All thanks to the US paranoia. So long business, hello protected boarders. 

    100 bucks aint worth it to go out of retirement.

  30. It occurs to me now, for the first time, that maybe everything we call security theater is just that and really functions as a wall of noise to hide the real efforts that really do protect us.

    Carry on . . .

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