Pay to Avoid Long Standstill Airport lines

Soon, first class may not just refer to where you sit on an airliner, but how you get on board.

The Transportation Security Administration is considering a plan to allow some frequent fliers to pay a fee and skip the time-consuming pre-flight security frisking.

The program, called Registered Traveler, would give passengers the option of paying an $80 a year fee and submitting to a background check. If they pass, they would be issued a card that would allow them to walk past the lines of people taking off their shoes and being patted down with an electric wand.

It would be up to individual airports whether or not to participate. Several have reportedly expressed interest, seeing it as a way to alleviate the long lines of passengers that back up at security check points, especially during peak travel times.

However, there are some significant costs as well.

Airports would be required to hire the personnel or subcontractors who would perform the background checks, issue the ID cards, and staff the special security lanes. And it�s not clear how much it would really help.

The American Civil Liberties Union has joined the opposition to the idea, saying only a small percentage of people who use commercial aviation would actually sign up for the program.

The result, the group maintains, is a few privileged passengers would board with ease while the masses of passengers would still be clogging the check points.

Under the plan, to receive a security card an applicant would provide fingerprints and iris scans, as well as two forms of government identification. The application would then have to be approved by TSA.

The program is currently being tested in Los Angeles, Washington, Minneapolis, Boston, Houston and Orlando.

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