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TSA PreCheck is out of control. There is a growing need to better qualify the individuals who use TSA PreCheck. To fix this, I propose a TSA PreCheck test to qualify for eligibility in the program.
Why Should There Be a PreCheck Test?
The number of approved members of the program is growing. Thanks to heavy advertising, casual travelers are now paying for the privilege of having TSA PreCheck. Anyone who can pass the required background check, pay $85, and show up for an in-person interview can gain PreCheck for 5 years. Many credit card and loyalty programs also offer reimbursements or discounts for enrollment. As a result, enrollments are up.
Along with the growth of the program has been exponential growth of the PreCheck lines. According to the TSA, there are now over 5 million TSA PreCheck program members. On many recent airport trips, the line for PreCheck has been longer than the general security line with fewer machines open. And yet many of the enrollees have little idea of how to properly utilize the PreCheck line or efficiently get through security without holding up other passengers.
While I have Clear and it works extremely well to get me past the first wave of “bad travelers”, I still often get stuck behind individuals who behave as if they have never visited an airport. This is why I feel like a test would be helpful to add to the mix.
We require tests for other governmental programs such as driver’s licenses. I was not allowed to have a driver’s license until I passed an in-person skills test. And I was not permitted to take the driving skills test until I passed a written review of rules and procedures. The application process for PreCheck should be no different.
What Would a TSA PreCheck Test Look Like?
I can envision two parts to a TSA PreCheck Test – one focused on rules/mechanics of the program and one focused on security skills. With the purpose of the program to “speed up” the security process, both of these would focus on eliminating passengers who are likely to provide hold ups.
Rules/Mechanics – a written test
During the initial application, a test of the rules and mechanics of the program could easily be conducted. Applicants would have to answer basic questions about the program before an application could be approved. Sample questions could cover topics like “who can I bring with me in the TSA PreCheck line”, “how can I tell if I have been selected for TSA PreCheck on a flight” and “what items should I take out of my bag before putting it through the x-ray machine”. If you do not know these basics, you do not belong in the program. Period.
Security Skills – a timed in-person test
The second part of the test would be part of the in-person interview. An applicant would be required to take a carry on and personal item through the security line. They would demonstrate that they can correctly and efficiently navigate the security process. That includes NOT taking out liquids or electronics, emptying pockets, and actually pushing all items through the belt before walking through the scanner. If an applicant failed to follow a guideline/rule, points would be deducted. A score below a specific mark would require the applicant to return for another test. Failing twice could require an applicant to wait 6 months before reapplying.
What Do You Think? Should There Be a Test to Qualify for TSA PreCheck?
Is this harsh? I don’t think so. As the lines continue to grow, they are often slower than the general security line. The only benefit seems to be the ability to keep shoes on and not take out laptops. When other passengers follow the rules of the regular security line anyway, that efficiency diminishes. I long to see the program return to how it was when I was a participant (along with many other top-tier elites) in the original program. It was a return to the security I remember from pre-9/11 and a restoration of order in the airport world.
How do you feel about the idea of a TSA PreCheck test? Should there be one? If so, should it focus only on program knowledge? Or on security line skills? Maybe both? Weigh in with our poll.