Posted on: April 16, 2012
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) is taking it on the chin in some quarters for introducing the Air Passenger Fairness Act, a bill that would bar airlines and airports from allowing frequent flyers to, as Nelson put it, "cut to the front" of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening line.
In the view of most airlines, many travel people and virtually all high-mileage frequent travelers, this is a misguided initiative because frequent business travelers are the airlines' best customers and ought to be entitled to an expedited trip to the head of the line.
Frankly, we think Congress has better things to do, but as long as we're on the subject, Nelson is right. It is unfair. But he's also wrong. It's not unfair enough to require an act of Congress.
We agree that airport security is a taxpayer-funded government activity, and as long as we're all paying the same fee, it should be blind to the status of the people being screened.
But airports and airlines, with the TSA's concurrence, have figured out that they can manage the area leading up to the checkpoint to enhance customer service, and so they do. If you're in the slow line, it smacks of elitism, but we're not sure it smacks of illegality as long as it is only the airline and airports, and not the TSA, that are playing favorites.
The real answer to this problem, of course, is universal availability of the TSA's PreCheck program for "trusted travelers" who agree to undergo background checks in exchange for expedited screening.
Better yet would be more screeners and more intelligent screening so that nobody waits in a long line.
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