Flying these days is akin to being treated like a common criminal, with intensive body pat downs, full body scans, or $10,000 fines and the boot if both are refused (which isn’t as well-advertised or talked about). In short, passengers are getting fed up with the way they’re being treated. And it seems like the Transportation Security Administration is taking notice as they are now weighing the pros and cons of creating security exceptions for some fliers, giving them the ability to skip the scans and pat downs altogether.
The way this exception, known as the “Trusted Traveler” program, would work, is that some frequent flier program members would be allowed to keep their shoes on, keep laptops in their bags, and avoid the body scanners. All they would need for this special privilege is a bar code on their boarding pass that verifies them as trusted fliers that are not on any government “watch lists.”
As terrorists can also easily get on frequent flier programs, however, the people that are selected to be “Trusted Travelers” will be thoroughly screened and have their background information checked before approval. Also, it will require them to be frequent fliers for a much longer period then new members, as terrorists might try to join these frequent flier programs after the implementation of this trust program.
TSA Administrator John Pistole says that there will also be an element of surprise and randomness mixed into this program to ensure that just in case a terrorist does get on this trusted list, that the security check will not always be skipped:
“We still want to keep some randomness and unpredictability in there so terrorists can’t game the system,” says Pistole.
This program looks to be primarily used with low-risk routes such as those with air marshals on board or local, short-distance flights.
With this program looking to make the travel experience less of a hassle and a faster process for frequent fliers, this might also create a larger security risk with terrorists sneaking onto the trusted lists, or learning how to fake these boarding pass bar codes and impersonate other travelers. Our question to you: do you trust the “Trusted Traveler” list?