The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will lower the $200 annual fee to about $110 for its new "Registered Traveler" program, according to a report by Thomas Frank at USA Today. The cost could jump to about $130 if the TSA requires a criminal background check in addition to its currently planned "terrorism assessment."
The move comes in response to "further analysis and public feedback" of the program's proposed pricing structure, says TSA spokesperson Yolanda Clark. Representatives of several companies seeking to manage the program's special security lines had said the $200 price might turn off millions of travelers from using the program.
To be honest, I'm of two minds about this whole Registered Traveler scheme. On the one hand, I'm happy to see efforts made to speed up the screening process while not sacrificing security (theoretically, anyway). On the other, I'm inherently critical of any plan that pits the haves (i.e. those who can afford the program) against the have-nots (everyday folks who don't want to fork over an extra hundred bucks to essentially cut in line).
It's one thing to charge extra for better seats, more legroom, and access to airport lounges. It just feels a bit dodgy—to borrow a phrase from my British friends—to do the same for security lines.
So from that standpoint, dropping the fee by $90 is at least a baby step in the right direction. The whole thing is still a bit off-putting, though.