Long lines, tedious questioning and hypersensitive scanners can make clearing airport security a miserable experience for frequent fliers, even for those whose special airline status gets them into an express line. Even worse, a snafu can cause you to miss a flight.
Private-sector companies have tried to capitalize on this situation by offering fee-based services that offer speedier processing at the gate if customers go through a prescreening process to qualify for inclusion.
These programs have had marginal success, partly because they were often limited to a small number of airports — in some cases, a single one. The Transportation Safety Board's complex web of regulations hasn't helped.
Now the TSA itself has a pilot program, PreCheck, operational on two airlines on select flights from airports in Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas, Miami and Las Vegas. Selected flights from New York's Kennedy International, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Salt Lake City will soon join.
Clearly, any shortcut is desirable for road warriors, but are they worth the cost?