Express Airport Security Lines

By | Category: Travel rumblings

© Dan Sperrin

You may have seen these at the larger airports. After you’ve checked in there is a special line called Fast Track or something similar which is used by first and business class passengers to go through security faster. There are little or no queues. Now the US is considering an idea where you pay $150 a year to get into that faster lane. Would you pay? Is this just another way of relieving cash from travellers? Could it take off here?
This idea comes from the US Travel Association, a travel trade body, and the Transportation Security Administration, the government agency that operates the security checking, is considering testing it. It has been suggested because some people are dissuaded from flying by the hassle of going through the lines and the delays and extra time it takes. Up to another 2-3 trips a year would be taken, says research from the travel association, which would add another $84.6 million in travel spending and generate another 88,000 jobs.
The argument is that the price would only appeal to regular travelers. Travel once and paying $150 is an expensive add-on. Travel 15 times and who would worry about $10 a trip? Business or regular travelers who submit additional information – the sort of things we have to give the US government before we are allowed to fly there – would be able to join the scheme.
Obviously to the association, it is a way of encouraging more flyers and more business. To some, this smacks of discrimination. Even allowing for all that will it work? I doubt it for a couple of reasons. The first is that there is a chance that, if it is successful, there will be so many people going through the faster lines that you will need to create more lines or reduce the number for ordinary passengers otherwise those who have paid won’t get through any faster. Secondly the price is too low. By being low too many regular travelers will sign up just because more Americans fly domestically than other nations because of the longer distances. $150 is about a half or a third of what some American airlines charge to join their lounge schemes which gives you access to the faster lanes. The price needs to be similar or you would be swamped by applicants.
Will it happen over here? I know of some airports that would love to try it particularly if they could keep the revenue. And that’s the issue: those who can use “privatized” security checks will go for it because of the revenue possibilities, not because it will help the passenger.
What the parties need to find is a way for any passenger to get through security lines faster so that everyone doesn’t look on flying as a pain.

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