PreCheck’s expansion: Good or bad?

The TSA announced last week that it plans to expand its successful PreCheck program so that travelers can apply for an airline-agnostic “membership” that will cost $85 for five years. The agency can be applauded for taking a program that has been universally applauded and availing it to more participants. All good, right?

Not necessarily. I’m a little distrustful about a couple of things. ¬†First, I wonder how great the impact will be. I’m sure (well, I hope) they’ve run the numbers. But the fact is that the majority of air passengers fly only a few times a year (at most). The program does not necessarily make sense for these passengers, or for families that would pay hundreds of dollars to participate together.

Second, if the expansion is successful, I fear an onslaught of participants will negate the biggest benefit: no lines. Yes, it’s nice not to remove shoes/laptop, but this will be less of a luxury after waiting in a long line. But perhaps they will be able to pull off expanded or reallocated staffing.

I’m going to be optimistic and hope this expansion works, but I admit I’m distrustful. The TSA is a little like a bad boyfriend: I hope that “this time will be different.”