TSA continues to improve experience of rich people

More evidence that American travel is headed for a two-tier security theater that is reasonable and light for rich people and business travellers, and increasingly awful and invasive for everyone else: as Pre-Check expands, people who fly often enough to make it worth spending $85 will be able to keep shoes, jackets and belts on and avoid pornoscanners (including the new more radioactive versions). Us dirty foreigners, as well as people who save carefully for one trip every couple of years to see their families, will get the ever-expanding Grand Guignol treatment, especially since everyone with any clout or pull will be over there in Pre-Check land, getting smiles and high-fives from the TSA.

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  1. This seems like the kind of problem that will correct itself, as soon as a terrorist ponies up the $85 to enjoy reduced scrutiny at the gate

  2. Wrong. The point is that security theater ≠ security. Reduced theater for the rich doesn't mean the security itself is reduced.

    The TSA is not catching terrorists, they're making millions for private corporations while compromising our dignity and civil rights.

    Your personal security is far more likely to be compromised by the TSA than protected by the TSA.

    Don't check any valuables. Watch your checked carry on luggage very closely.

  3. drsam says:

    Cory: I agree with many things that you write, but I think you're being unnecessarily melodramatic here. If it was $85/trip, I'd be more inclined to agree with you, but it's $85 for 5 years, you're talking about $17/year. Even if you fly only every couple of years, it's still cheaper than checking a single suitcase. It's cheaper than a week of cable TV (which is probably far worse for you than going through a scanner), and frankly, if you can afford to fly at all, it's a marginal cost. It has nothing to do with "clout", and trust me when I tell you that the TSA folks manning the pre-check line are just as blank and drone-ish as the ones in the lines with the scanners.

    If you believe that the background check isn't going to be effective for weeding out bad guys, then you're right, it's absurd. If you assume that it does, then it makes sense. Most of all, though, it's about saving time, and providing a path for those who want to pay (and sacrifice a little 'privacy' [scare quotes because the NSA/Snowden revelations should have amply proven that privacy is the real theater]) to be able to save some time at the airport.

    The 20-30 minutes a trip that I save adds up for those who fly 2-3x a month. To pay $17/year to save an hour that can be spent hanging out with my child? That's something that anyone can appreciate.

    Is it safe to assume that you're equally opposed to reduced rate tolls and faster toll-booth transit times for those who invest in EZ Pass (an upfront fee and potential loss of privacy for those who drive a lot on turnpikes), and the Global Entry system for those returning to the US (an upfront fee and potential loss of privacy for those who fly internationally, allowing us to avoid a face-to-face interview at passport control). So no "fee-for-convenience" for anyone?

    As for the scanners, I always opt-out of the RapiScanners regardless. I'm, however, pretty convinced by the evidence around the safety of the millimeter wave scanners. The jury is out (for me at least) on the new AS&E Smartcheck HT scanners (the ones you're alluding to in your entry). They claim an exposure of 0.05 microSieverts (5 microRem), which is truly minuscule when compared to the exposure of the flight itself (at least according to the EPA, that's 2-5 milliRem for a cross-country flight).

  4. If you fly once in 5 years, that's $85 extra for the trip, plus all the extra personal information you need to give up.

    Even if you fly only every couple of years, it's still cheaper than checking a single suitcase.

    Some of us do whatever we can to avoid checking suitcases, because that crap's fricking expensive after you've already paid the rest of the fees and ticket price.

    frankly, if you can afford to fly at all, it's a marginal cost.

    Wow. Way to project your personal situation on the rest of the country.

  5. toyg says:

    I guess you're not a clumsy italian that struggles to keep his trousers up whenever he's forced to take off his belt, and who might be embarrassed by looking like a shoeless clown holding his trousers in front of hundreds of people, while somebody else opens his luggage for everyone to see -- and I don't mean the TSA people, I mean peers, colleagues, acquaintances who are often in the vicinity while this happens. I'm sure there are ways around it (ceramic-based belts are not one of them: guards don't care if it's made of rock or gold, it's a belt and it must go), but why should a bureaucratic nightmare dictate what I should or should not wear, what I should or should not pack? If I wanted that, I'd have enrolled in the Army.

    And the most humiliating thing is the constant lying. "You've been randomly selected"... 6 times in a row (true story!). A bit shitty that /dev/urandom, hey? Could it have anything to do with my nationality being different from the one of my home airport? Noo, of course not, all random. Oh, and this water I have here, it doesn't matter if I drink 6 gallons in front of you or perform a chemical analysis on the spot that proves it's coming from the purest river on Earth, I cannot keep it with me, because it would clearly explode.

    The sort of treatment that does wonders for one's self esteem, isn't it? Not humiliating at all.

    having to pat down little old ladies with titanium hips to make a living. Now that's humiliating.

    Well, they do get to play guards in this mass-scale Stanford experiment. There are worse fates: like having to play prisoners when you can't pay your way out of it.

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