Although we already awarded our Stupidest Idea of the Year: 2001 award to the village idiot that allowed the Twin Models to fly on a plane again, the following announcement from our own airline deserves a few honorable words of mention:
United Air Tests 'Priority' Security Screening
There are so many things wrong with this idea that I don't even know where to begin. Probably the most alarming is that fact that again, part of the airport security process will be managed by the airline companies.
A major issue at stake here is the dangerous precedent airlines establish in promoting a system that promises a faster security checkpoint process for a few select fliers. There's nothing wrong with promising larger seats, better meals, and improved customer service---but safety and security should always be left out of the 'faster and better service' airline marketing campaigns.
Already United has indicated that they have no problem in allowing their customers to use our own crew security checkpoints. They reported in NewsReal that "the company may direct customers to use it if lines on the upper level are extremely long."
I see where United is going with this. They realize that improved airport/airline security is here to stay. They also realize that your average cell phone/laptop-toting 1k doesn't like to wait. So, like all other aspects of air travel, they are trying to work in a convenience factor that will appeal to their select high-revenue passengers. Like a few of those other well-intentioned ideas (remember that half-baked Cell Phone Policy a few months ago?), this one may also be headed in the direction of overkill.
Think of the problems you will now have in promising 'priority' security screenings for certain select passengers. Think of the reluctance that may develop on the part of an actual screener who wants to (Oh Heaven Forbid!) take a closer look inside a Premier Executive's laptop computer case? Or a x-ray monitor technician who might be hesitant about slowing down one of these 'priority' security lines if they feel the situation warrants a more thorough bag scan? Or (ye gads) having to actually stop and ask a Star Alliance Gold member to open his/her bags?
All of the critical airport security concerns mixed together under the pretense of a promised 'dedicated' and 'priority lane' security checkpoint?
We'll see what happens. Our own president recently said, "The law I will sign should give all Americans greater confidence when they fly." It is also up to the airlines work with the federal government to ensure that happens. But they should stay out of airport security checkpoints. Airline customer service marketing campaign promises and the U.S. airport security screening process should not be tied together in one slick package. If anything should be modified, there should be established a separate line for those passengers without carry-on luggage.
The solution, the only permanent and viable solution, is for each and every member of the traveling public to accept that air travel will never be the same as it was before September 11th. Eventually, even the most die-hard IMPORTANT AND BUSY PERSON will eventually adapt to the necessary airport security process and adjust their IMPORTANT AND BUSY SCHEDULES accordingly.
It's still faster than taking a bus.