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Airlines protest ‘Registered Traveler’ program

Here’s something I don’t write very often: I am in complete, 100-percent agreement with the airlines. Whoa. Stop, rewind. Say what? It’s true, and the issue in question is the TSA’s ill-advised “Registered Traveler” program that could debut as early as June.

Am I the only one who thinks this is a bad idea? Apparently not, thankfully. The Air Transport Association (ATA), which represents all of the major U.S. airlines, says the “Registered Traveler” program “would appear to serve more as a revenue-generating scheme than a security program that would benefit passengers.” Amen to that.

How does the scheme work? The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) envisions a program operated by private companies using “smart card” technology to store travelers’ “biometric data” (fingerprints, for example). Travelers who pay for the privilege—which is going for $80 in some test markets—would reportedly avoid some of the security hassles that theoretically keep the rest of us safe, among them taking off shoes and removing laptops from carry-on luggage for screening.

This is probably the worst idea since allowing sharp knives back on planes—another TSA gem. The ATA suggests government funding would be more appropriately spent providing more accurate screening of all passengers. I agree. Look, I travel quite a bit and I get irritated by long security lines as much as the next guy. (More than the next guy, if you ask my wife.) But I still prefer to know that everyone in the sky has gone through the same screening procedures as me.

So to the TSA, I say: Any other bright ideas? Because this one’s a nonstarter.

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