I received an email from American Airlines this afternoon which explained that people who have opted in to share frequent flyer data with the TSA can no longer expect regular PreCheck.
For the past few years you could get regular expedited security screening if you were a frequent flyer with a major airline. They’d send over the data they had on you (which, let’s admit it, the government already has access to anyway). And most folks doing this would be eligible not to take off shoes, take out laptop, or remove liquids. That meant faster screening, and avoidance of nude-o-scopes.
There was never a single slip-up with this program, a ‘terrorist who got through’. TSA was completely comfortable clearing folks for expedited screening whom they had this information about and whose travel patterns it matched the profile of a non-terrorist.
But that’s not good enough anymore, it seems, because the TSA has enrollment targets to hit for their own PreCheck program.
The TSA is starting to deny PreCheck more frequently to travelers that have opted in through their airline loyalty program. It wasn’t guaranteed to begin with, and there were times before I signed up for Global Entry that I wouldn’t get access to it. (I’ve been pretty much batting 1.000 since then).
Even though all the algorithms suggested this process was ‘safe’ the TSA’s incentive is to make you pay and to run up their enrollment numbers.
I suppose I’ll benefit if it has the unintended effect of backfiring and leading to fewer people going through PreCheck. The lines usually aren’t bad in most airports, though PreCheck can be a mess in places like New York JFK and LAX… especially when the TSA is shuttling unexpecting passengers who haven’t opted into anything into the lines and they take off their shoes not knowing they don’t have to.