Today's edition of CNN carries a pair of disturbing developments on the airline security front. Topping the list is a plan by the beleagured airline industry--still struggling despite a $15 billion bailout package--to institute a "trusted traveler" program that would let holders of a special card skip the long lines created by security checks. Government officials and frequent flyers who pass a background check could receive a special card that would let them skip the security screenings.
I'm no highly-paid airline executive, just an amatuer aviation enthusiast, and the flaw in this plan is obvious to me. The Sept. 11 gang didn't just decide to grab some airliners on the spur of the moment. They planned for months, including making several "dry runs." Given that al Qaeda has established a pattern of preparing its ops well in advance, it's elementary that they'd take advantage of an opportunity to establish frequent-flyer bona fides if it'd give them an opportunity to slip a terrorist onto a plane when it counted. This notion is especially disturbing given the still-shaky state of security at airports.
I also have a populist problem with the notion of government officials and frequent flyers--which means business travelers--getting to skip the lines the Great Unwashed have to endure. The flying public was asked to put up with the inconveneince--and I've experienced it; it is an inconvenience--in the name of greater security. It stinks to contemplate declaring a certain class of people too privileged to have to endure the plebian lines.