Great Moments in Government Process Innovation

I have noticed recently that the TSA has created split lines at many airport security screening posts - one for experienced travelers and one for "casual" travelers - i.e. noobs.

I have no problem with the basic idea.  Long ago I began advocating special lines for public electronic devices (airport boarding pass machines, supermarket self-checkout, ATM's) for people with IQ's over 90 because I always seemed to get behind the person who had never even seen a keyboard in their life.

But the actual execution of this concept in airports is laughable.  In the last 4 airports I have been in, the split between passengers who know what they are doing and those who don't is only through the screener who checks ID.  Even the lamest travel noobs are generally able to cough up an ID and boarding pass without too much trouble (though I will say I always seem to get behind the guy traveling on some bizarre 1930's-era League of Nations passport that seems to take forever to process).  However, after this ID screening the two lines come back together and everyone is mixed again.  Just in time to hit the x-ray screening station, where inexperienced travelers can hold up the line for hours.

  • Dr. T

    Headline news (not!): Bureaucratic, unneeded agency bungles attempt to improve efficiency of its bureaucratic, unneeded screening process.

    I advocate zero screening except for checking passports when boarding international flights (because forgetting a passport and arriving overseas is an avoidable problem, and checking for passports take only seconds per passenger). I am not worried about my fellow passengers toting handguns, long knives, coshes, brass knuckles, liter bottles of liquids, etc. If a bunch of baddies try to hijack or damage our plane, I want scores of other passengers to be armed well enough to take them out. Ending TSA screening would save passengers and taxpayers billions of dollars a year, would eliminate millions of person-hours of wasted time at airports, and would make air travel safer than ever.

  • Not Sure

    "However, after this ID screening the two lines come back together and everyone is mixed again. Just in time to hit the x-ray screening station, where inexperienced travelers can hold up the line for hours."

    If travelers aren't inconvenienced, how are they to know they're being protected from the terrorists?

  • me

    Oh, the TSA and their valid spending in order to create security out of nonsensical processes. I fondly remember the time when me and my girl friend where racially profiled and hand-checked. While the pat-down and luggage search unearthed a forgotten mini soap bottle that was promptly confiscated and lectured about, the huge (filled) gas lighter and pair of scissors that ended up in the wrong backpack ended up aboard.

    Can't we just put the agency to a popular vote and be done with it already?

  • Steve

    I love this concept too...who would ever admit that they were a noob? Every idiot goes to the experienced line whether they fly every week (like I used to) or once every 3 years. One person's "experienced" is another person's noob!

  • Craig

    Salt Lake City has this system, and as I recall, the lines stay separate through the X-rays. Usually the expert line is longer, but its also faster, so I think n00bs are lured by the shortness of the casual line (if they're not honest about their n00bness in the first place).

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMudy

    "the guy traveling on some bizarre 1930’s-era League of Nations passport that seems to take forever to process"

    Hay! I work with that guy.

    I've just started allowing an extra 30 minutes in the travel schedule when I go overseas with him.