Topic of the Week: GBTA Next Week


It’s time once again for the monstrous event known as the GBTA Convention. I haven’t gone in a few years, but this time I’m going to be moderating a panel on Tuesday about the various government fast pass programs (Global Entry, Pre Check, etc). I’ll also be on the floor Monday and Tuesday. I might even get there early enough to hear United CEO Jeff Smisek speak on Monday, but that may be a little too early for me to get there. If you’ll be there, let me know. I’ll certainly be around.

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16 comments on “Topic of the Week: GBTA Next Week

  1. Is GBTA more intended for Hollywood business crowd? Seems like several celebrities will be in attendance. I see also Richard Anderson, Doug Parker, and lot of travel providers such as Amex and Google.

    1. Sanjeev M – They’ve always been big on getting this high profile speakers. I saw President Clinton speak a couple years ago. But GBTA is really THE big corporate event. There’s plenty of criticism out there around the organization but it’s undeniably the big event of the year across the board.

  2. Please try to address the frustration TSA Pre holders, like you and I, who acquired it by having the background check and paying the fee, feel as more & more non TSA Pre travelers are sent to the Pre lane during busy periods and wind up slowing down the whole system.


    1. I agree. I am tired of watching the Elite Line move much faster than pre-check because of all the families and people that did not go through the process using it.

    2. I paid the fee for Global Entry and use TSA Pre all the time at SEA, SFO, DCA, PHX… and love it. My only complaint is that when flying with my family, they will assign my 6-year old to me and let him go through TSA Pre but they expect me to allow my 14-year old to go through the regular line by herself! I don’t understand why all under-18s do not go with their Global Entry parent through TSA Pre; I can’t imagine most parents would be happy to let their minor children navigate security screening on their own.

      Otherwise, I love the program and consider it the best $85 travel fee I’ve ever paid.

    3. I disagree with the sentiment expressed by Chris, that if some people paid for pre-check, then others shouldn’t be allowed to pass through the lanes for free. It implies that non-intrusive screening is some sort of premium service, like expedited passport processing. This is not the case. Expedited passport processing costs the government more than standard processing, so we ask that this service be paid for by the people who use it rather than by all taxpayers. Expedited screening, however, costs less than intrusive screening: each person who passes through the metal detector with their shoes on actually saves the taxpayers money compared to taking the same person through the intrusive screening process. So we the people should want to pass as many passengers as possible through expedited screening. The only reason to have someone take off their shoes is if we think they pose a greater risk.

      The pre-check fee is just to tell the government that a traveler considers themselves low-risk, and cover the government’s expense in verifying this assertion. It is not a VIP program for preferential treatment. In practice, pre-check often results in expedited screening, which is why people are willing to pay the fee (there’s also the trade-off between an intrusive records and background check in advance and an intrusive physical check at the airport). But at the screening line, the job of the screeners is to get all the people through as fast as possible, without compromising security; this means moving low-risk travelers through expedited screening, regardless of whether they had paid for being assessed for risk. If a traveler wants preferential treatment, then they should pay for a VIP program that gives access to elite lanes.

      1. Ron — I have never thought of this in this fashion but it is a fascinating argument. This is opposite of what most people probably believe pre-check is — essentially another elite service (pre-board, 1st class, etc.). If the money goes to 100% “pre-clearing” them to use the pre-check lane then your logic is sound.

        If some of the pre-check money goes to labor at the TSA line then its totally different and people who have paid for pre-check have every right to complain. Something tells me you are right and the rest are incorrect.

        This would be a great Cranky post — where does the $85 dollars go, and does pre-check mean 1) faster screening 2) less obtrusive screening or 3) none of the above. Naturally TSA isn’t a marketing agency and probably hasn’t communicated this well.

  3. I agree with Chris – bring up the TSA Pre-Check lines being overcrowded by individuals who have no idea why they’re there, no idea where they’re going and no idea what an airplane is. We (individuals who bought either Pre-Check or GE) did buy into a “VIP” program by paying a fee to the federal government allowing us the privilege of going through a more efficient and non-evasive security line.

    1. It’s very sad that Americans have come to think of an efficient and less invasive security line as a privilege (I don’t know if you, Jonathan, are an American, but even if not, I’m sure some Americans think this way). Freedom, including freedom of movement, is a right, not a privilege. This right may only be limited by a compelling public interest. I have the right to undergo the least invasive screening that’s consistent with protecting public safety. Speaking of a less invasive screening as a privilege is just wrong.

      1. I agree with Ron in that Pre-Check/GE aren’t intended to be VIP programs. They are a means to expedite the screening process and reduce the manpower burden on TSA by separating out verified (hopefully) low-threat travelers.

        If I understand the concept correctly, the TSA has a process by which they’ve already identified low-risk travelers (e.g. frequent flyers, the elderly, military, DoD civilians). Paying the fee, I’m assuming, is basically saying: “I think I’m low-threat and don’t need the more rigorous screening. Please look through your databases and let me know if you agree.”

        Now, do I FEEL like a VIP when I head to the Pre-Check lane instead of the regular queue? Absolutely, but I don’t think that’s the intent of the program. As Ron stated above, the goal should be to make expedited screening the norm, not the exception.

        1. Ron, LT_DT,
          I agree with you guys as well and it’s a valid argument. Yes, I am American. What I think would really help would be to have a dedicated pre-check lane for those individuals who have paid or have been given pre-check due to their airline status.
          For example, an airport with multiple pre-check lanes at one checkpoint could set aside one pre-check lane for seasoned travelers. The elderly, military members (new to pre), families, and the randoms could use the other pre-check lanes. This is identical to the way things were before pre-check – with there being a normal line and a status line.
          We all know the US Government doesn’t understand efficiency (think DMV, Post Office), but it could be improved at the airport as passengers would influence the speed of the line instead of solely the Gov’t employees . There are many times when the family line is shuffled into pre-check. This really slows down the process for those passengers that just need to put a bag down and walk through. In my opinion increasing passengers processed per hour without negatively impacting security should be of top priority and having one dedicated lane for those who know what they’re doing would significantly help.

  4. This isn’t going to be about TSA Pre Check lines and things like that. It’s more for corporate travel managers, talking about how to manage the different products for employees around the world. Though something tells me that the Pre Check lines are going to come up in the Q&A…

  5. Please ask Jeff Smisek of United why our extra dollars spending for upgrade purchases at the time of ticket purchases do not count towards our Elite PQD requirements. This is money that’s for United’s revenue bottom line benefit. Also, if we are short a few miles and need to purchase premium accelerator miles to keep our 1K status I would think that should be counted also towards our PQD.
    Thank you.

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