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Registered Traveler program
The Registered Traveler program has nothing to do with security. It is
simply a way to pay $100 to cut to the front of the line. While $28 of
fee goes to a security check, there's actually no rational reason to
do the check other than to make the program look like it's
The program is set to work like this - a traveler submits 10
fingerprints, a couple of optional iris scans, a digital photo, and
personal information including their Social Security number to the
government through one of the private groups running a Registered
Traveler program. After the government runs a $28 background check and
clears the person, the private company (so far only Verified Identity
Pass is certified) issues them a smart card.
Then, after a traveler gets her boarding pass the normal way and heads
toward the security checkpoint, she goes to a special line that has a
kiosk. There she has her fingerprints scanned and checked against the
card and if they match, she goes immediately to the front of the
screening line. Then she goes through screening as normal - with their
liquids in a bag, laptop out of its case, shoes off, etc. So, what's
the point of a background check if all you get is a better place in
the same line you would have been without the card?
But can't those with the unfortunate name Robert Johnson or Ted
Kennedy, who keep getting snagged by watchlists, join Registered
Traveler to avoid having to prove they aren't the terrorist the
government is looking for every time they fly? Yes, they can join, but
no, it won't make any difference. The two systems don't touch at all.
Some Registered Travelers will still not be able to print their
boarding passes at home and will get the dread SSSS on their boarding
pass (the code for extra screening).
In short, Registered Traveler is a program that lets people pay an
annual fee of $100 to cut to the front of the line. As for the
background check? It's purely theater to make the public think the
program is something other than a way for the well-off to avoid the
hassles of post 9/11 airline travel.
The TSA promises that the program won't slow down regular travelers,
but that's plainly absurd. If it speeds up those willing to pay $100,
it's going to slow down those unwilling or unable to do so, since
there are currently no plans to add special screening lanes for
Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity
opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment.
Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.
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