Update on the TSA

A short time ago I wrote a an Op Ed for my hometown newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News. Topic was the ineptitude of the TSA and its impact upon the airport, travelers, and overall safety.

In it I recommended signing up for PreCheck as one of the few means that travelers have to reduce the impact of the eternal lines during busy hours. A client of mine made the astute observation:

“Get Precheck? Yeah, it’s great when it works…but most of the time PreCheck isn’t open and I have to use the general line. Any other brilliant ideas?”

Spot on, Nameless Client: it helps when it is open and not at all when it is closed. Shocking stuff, I know. That said, I still stand by my suggestion though you’ll have to bear with me as to the reason why.

On a good day (i.e. almost never) the TSA is able to adjust their staffing based upon demand as provided by airlines and airports. In a hypothetical airport the TSA knows that approximately 500 people will be passing through security at 11.00am. Of those, they also know a certain percentage are PreCheck cleared.

If that percentage is sufficiently high, then a PreCheck lane is opened. It is important to note that staffing is not added to the PreCheck station; instead, it is switched from the normal entry gates. More people will get processed in this scenario as it takes less time for PreCheck travelers to pass security than non-PreCheck.

If the percentage is too low, then everyone is funneled through normal entry lines and their chances of missing flights increases exponentially. At best, the PreCheck folk get a handy card that lets them use the Xray machines versus the full body scanners.

What is that magic percentage? No idea. If more people sign up for PreCheck, though, it increases the odds of opening the lane.

So, go sign up for PreCheck. With you, your family, and your friends added to the list it is more likely the lane will remain open…thereby allowing me to make my flight.

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