FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — The Transportation Security Administration — The TSA — for all of its advancements and improvements over the past few years — still manages to undermine its own credibility.
Friday afternoon at Fort Lauderdale’s terminal two — used by Delta — all passengers for an extended period of time were routed through the pre-check line.
We’re talking hundreds.
For those who are unfamiliar with pre-check, it’s the program where frequent fliers can pay roughly $100 for a background check and then be entitled to expedited screening.
It’s phenomenal when it works. One of the greatest government programs in the past decade. For those who travel regularly, it’s a game changer.
But it only works when everyone flying isn’t being funneled through the pre-check line, allowing them to pass through without removing shoes, removing computers from bags, or undergoing any real scrutiny. Aside from the obvious lack of a real security screen, these travelers defeat the purpose of pre-check, slowing down true pre-check members as they say things like, “wait, really, I don’t have to take off my shoes?”
While we’ve seen versions of this nationwide, the South Florida version usually entails the passenger balancing on a cane while trying to remove a shoe. The process of putting the shoe back on is painful to watch. Especially as this plays out time and time again — and the line grows longer and longer.
More on point: we watched as several travelers with foreign passports breezed right through. We find it highly unlikely that most foreign nationals are going to be granted pre-check status.
In Fort Lauderdale, a supervisor said the “putting everyone through pre check for a few hours a day” is a “mandate from Washington.”
There’s no way to know if this is true. The TSA’s standard response is normally a version of “random security is the name of the game.”
And we understand that. But In our view, pre-check needs to be reserved for travelers who have undergone the background check process. Otherwise, it’s a pointless game of smoke and mirrors. Hundreds of afternoon fliers on Delta flights to Atlanta and Detroit are no less of a security risk because they’re flying between 11a and 2pm. However, those of us who have been interviewed — and presumably have our flight patterns monitored by a computer — arguably are.
Perhaps the TSA has determined that there really are no security risks that will be mitigated by removing shoes, computers from bags, or limiting hair conditioner consumption to three ounces.
If that’s the case, then perhaps it’s time to revisit the entire airport screening system.