TSA goes downhill ... skiing

Last week, my GF sent me this link about the new TSA line-up process.

From the Chicago Tribune:

New signs, color-coded like those at ski resorts that warn of the difficulty level of slopes, are directing passengers to one of three lines—a green circle for beginners, a blue square for intermediate travelers and a black diamond for advanced passengers. Travelers pick the line that fits their experience level, or security workers direct them to the appropriate one.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it may help me. At SEA, SNA, PDX and many other airports, I get to use the express line at security because of my Gold status with Alaska Airlines.

But that doesn't help me at airport where Alaska doesn't fly. When I travel someplace like MSP, CMH, LGA, JFK, MIA, STL, etc, it would be nice to still use the Expert lane to clear security faster.

But I have some doubts.

TSA claims this will help with security because people will be calm.

"These dedicated lanes increase security by calming the checkpoint environment and giving passengers some control of the process," said Kip Hawley, TSA administrator. "These dedicated lanes increase security by calming passengers and allowing behavior detection officers to more easily identify suspicious activity."

First of all, the calming rationale makes no sense. I suppose you could argue that irritated passengers are a threat to air security, but that's a bit of a stretch.

Now when an expert traveler is behind someone who is a bit slow getting through security or doesn't know the process, they get mildly annoyed with TSA itself at the stupidity of its policies, but they know it comes with the territory.

When that happens with the self selecting Black Daimond lane, they will get annoyed at the person who chose the expert lane because they flew once back in 2003 and for whom the whole strip down process for TSA is not second nature. So instead of calming passengers at check point, the new process is more likely to enflame tensions between passengers.

And that's the problem with the self selecting system. It works great on a ski resort. It probably won't work at airport.

If you choose the expert lane at the airport, and you aren't an expert, you get through security a little faster.

If you choose the expert lane at a ski resort, and you aren't an expert, you die.

That's a big difference.

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