July 20, 2013 The TSA’s New PreCheck Program and why it is a bad deal.
Ok, well maybe not a bad deal, but there are better deals out.
Up until this point the TSA extended PreCheck to airline elites, some hotel partners, trusted travelers, and other sources. The result of this was, that in order to get PreCheck a traveler had to be invited into the program. That is set to change, the TSA will being taking applications from people who want to be a part of PreCheck, but are not in one of the above groups. The estimated cost is $85.00 for a five-year pass.
On the face of this, the idea to sell PreCheck memberships seems like a good one. However, for the people the deal is targeting, the deal is terrible. First, if a person is traveling frequently enough to make this a good deal, they should already be opted in under their frequent flyer program. Next, most non-business travelers travel with someone else. Knowing that each person has to buy a pass means that for people that travel in groups the price is either too high or groups have to split at security. So the program doesn’t really benefit those people. However, that is still not the biggest reason the memberships will fail.
The biggest reason this is a bad idea and will fail is the price point. A TSA pass will cost someone $85.00, GlobalEntry which has all of the benefits of the TSA pass plus the ability to skip USCIS lines is $100.00. Anyone who is eligible for both programs, should just apply for GlobalEntry. For this to work, we have to assume that GlobalEntry is more restrictive than the TSA program. The following groups are eligible for GlobalEntry, US citizens and LPRs as well as Canadian (under NEXUS), Mexican, South Korean, and Dutch Citizens are also eligible. That’s a lot eligibility.
Now, for the TSA program to work it will have to fold in people who either not-eligible or rejected from GlobalEntry. Somehow I doubt the TSA will fold in the GlobalEntry rejects. They might, but I doubt it. These people were rejected from the GlobalEntry program for a reason, why would the TSA go against that. So the TSA is going to be going after foreign nationals who are not eligible for GlobalEntry. So, the TSA will be providing reduced security access to a block of people that USCIS wants to fully screen. Yeah, this seems like a bad idea.
So, the TSA is hoping people are going to apply for their program and not GlobalEntry and/or people who have been deemed ineligible for GlobalEntry.
This seems to be DOA on the TSA’s part.
My advice go buy GlobalEntry, even if you travel internationally once it’s a better deal than what the TSA is offering.