For any of you who traveled through the air over the July 4th weekend, you know how cumbersome going through security has become. We live in a world in which security is among our most important issues and TSA have responded by having one of the least efficient ways to get passengers through.
The best way to avoid the large crowds and clogged lines that can stretch for yards is to sign up for TSA PreCheck. As many of you have probably seen, it’s a special entrance that moves much faster because you don’t have to take off your shoes and other duties that slow down the line. By going through the pre-check process, you have already been noted as someone safe to enter.
That is why I wonder why more airlines aren’t doing what JetBlue announced it was doing today. Footing the $85 bill for TSA PreCheck for its most frequent fliers.
Now, this kind of thing does happen at other airlines. You can often negotiate with your airline to pick up the fee, especially if you are switching loyalty programs as I did when leaving United to join American.
But no one has promoted such a response as JetBlue, which said it will pick up the fee for anyone who has flown 30 one-way JetBlue flights and earned 12,000 base flight points within a year.
Picking up the tab for TSA PreCheck isn’t a game changer.
A note of caution, however. This isn’t going to change the industry landscape much. For one thing, JetBlue doesn’t have nearly the number of routes that the big three of United, American and Delta have. But as air travel picks up and the security lines increasingly frustrate passengers, it makes sense for the bigger airlines to institute such a loyalty reward.
Airlines are currently basking in increased travel but they still have the same problem they had when things weren’t so rosy for them: How to create preference. For the most part, when it comes to the most frequent fliers, preference comes through loyalty programs and location of hubs.
It is artificial preference that can change by new loyalty rules (that’s what happened to me) or new or less routes. The airlines might think they have you trapped, but you can switch anytime.
Even paying for TSA PreCheck, while a strong move for any airline, won’t guarantee preference. The airlines have still failed to find any kind of emotional reason for why you would prefer one airline over another. It’s the reason why you have seen so much consolation in the industry because it’s the only way they can grow.
TSA PreCheck is a great thing. But the main problems still exist.