EXPRESS LANE: Proposed airline program would require fee

A program that promises to let paying passengers breeze through security gates without taking off their shoes --- and possibly their overcoats --- will be tested at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by fall. Airport General...


"Our experience is that it works like express lanes on a toll road," Orlando International spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell said. "Those in the express lanes clear up the other lanes for everyone else."

Landers stressed that passengers using the registered traveler program will still have to run their laptop computers, keys and other items through the X-ray scanners. DeCosta said he plans to review proposals for the program with airline representatives before implementing the test program.

Patti Morgan, a Marietta resident who owns a construction company and flies three times a month from Hartsfield-Jackson on business, said she'd be interested in the program.

"I never fly on Mondays and Fridays now because of congestion in the security lines," she said. "If I could clear security in five minutes and it would cost me $100 a year, I'd do it for sure."

Stuart Rapee, a Miami lawyer, who signed up for the CLEAR program in Orlando where his company headquarters is located, said it takes him about four minutes to clear security.

"The people in the [dedicated] lines seem to know what they are doing," he said. "I haven't had much delay at all."

Rapee said the main benefit to the program is that it allows him to predict how long it will take him to get through security. Before, he said, he had to arrive at the airport much earlier because he had to anticipate a worst-case wait time.

The program's main drawback, he said, is that it's not yet available at most airports.

"It's mildly frustrating now to have it work so well on some trips and then not find it in airports on other trips," he said.

BY THE NUMBERS

450: Number of U.S. commercial airports.

5: Number of vendors approved by TSA to operate the program (only two have operational certification).

10: Number of U.S. airports with a registered traveler program.

$100: Cost of the program for a passenger for one year.

50,000: Number of people in the U.S. who have joined the program.

35,000: Number of people using the program at the Orlando airport.

HOW THE PROGRAM COULD WORK

Passengers pay an annual fee and undergo an extensive background check by TSA (Transportation Security Administration).

Unique biometric information (usually fingerprint and iris data) is encoded into a high-tech card.

At the airport, passengers enter a specially designated security lane.

At a kiosk, the biometric card is inserted into a reader.

Passenger is prompted to place finger on the fingerprint reader or look into the iris reader, and biometrics are checked against the card.

Attendants assist passengers with laptop computers and other items that must be X-rayed.

We Recommend