Pizza In The News And The Continuing Discussion on Airport Security

I’m quoted in this month’s Travel & Leisure magazine talking about Global Entry.  I’ve talked in the past about how much of a fan I am.  I’m also a huge fan of TSA Pre-Check.  Most people don’t know it, but you can have access to TSA Pre-Check even if you’re not a frequent flier who’s been invited.  That’s one of the hidden beauties of Global Entry.

Now, Gary of View From the Wing is also quoted in the article, and he’s posted about it on his blog.

And, while Gary is absolutely correct that the current format where TSA Pre-Check selection is randomized on a daily basis doesn’t actually mean you can leave your house or office later, I still think many people take their concerns with the TSA a bit further then I would deem reasonable.

Gary says, “Don’t get me wrong, restoring my dignity may be even more important than efficient use of time.”

Gary, I have a ton of respect for you.  But, I think bypassing the machines to get groped by a stranger is significantly less dignified than going through the “nude-a-scope”, especially since they’re not all nude-a-scopes anymore.

My two cents?  Flying is a privilege, not a right.  The TSA, inept as they may be at many things, is doing a reasonable job rolling out Pre-Check and less invasive scanners.  I’m fine with the current procedures as the price to get on an airplane that’s safer.  Others argue vehemently that TSA isn’t actually protecting anyone more then we were years ago.  While TSA may not be super effective, my recollection of security pre-9/11 was that the employees were pretty poor.  I don’t generally regard the current system as worse then what we had before.

I know there are lots of people that disagree.

About the Author

My goal in life is to fill my family’s passports with stamps, creating buckets of memories along the way. You’ll find me writing about realistic ways for normal people to travel the world, whether you’re on a budget or enjoy luxury. I also enjoy taking us on the occasional detour to explore the inner workings of the travel industry.

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  1. Hi there! Great post. I agree with you about Pre-Check, and wrote about it a month or so ago – while there are recently some problems, I don’t think it will go away. I think the airlines will tweak it, but I think it’s here to stay–I think I read something about that on the TSA site (and it won’t matter who gets elected, I don’t think). The Global Entry program sounds much more helpful if you travel overseas esp. for business. I also read something recently about the scanners that were outlawed in Europe are now being removed and replaced here in the U.S. due to cancer scares, but I’d rather do the scanner than be groped any day! Plus, it’s faster (in my personal experience).

    The TSA? I love to poke fun at them, and they have flaws – just like any other business or organization. As a whole, at least across the U.S., I find them to be just as good or better after 9/11. It always helps to be courteous and friendly, too. There’s bad apples in every organization, and you can’t just say they are all bad. Generally speaking, it makes me feel better knowing they are working and checking bags.

    I tested them out of O’Hare recently, on purpose. I brought a 4 oz. bottle of sunscreen. Yep, they found it. They pulled me aside so quickly my head spun, and it went in the trash, they went through all my bags and I got the full body search. Quite the scene. But inside, I was glad. To me (a very generic, average-looking, non-threatening person), the system worked, and they were doing a great job of checking each bag.

  2. Two areas I’d quibble with.

    (1) “Flying is a privilege, not a right.” Please see the ‘privileges & immunities clause” of the U.S. Constitution.

    (2) Millimeter Wave machines are indeed nude-o-scopes. The pejorative does not apply solely to backscatter machines.

    1. Well, I was only marginally familiar with the clause, so I did some reading. The only reference to the clause I can find that supports your position is Paul v Virginia, where the Supreme Court stated, in part, “it gives them the right of free ingress into other States, and egress from them”. If this is what you’re referencing, I would say that the people are very free to move between the States through a variety of methods. They can even travel by plane without clearing TSA security by piloting a plane from a smaller airport. And, since the clause, IMO, is intended to regulate fair treatment when moving from one state to another, I would argue the rules are the same in all the states as determined by Homeland Security.

  3. Ed, my point about right to travel wasn’t about TSA. Just responsive to the broader claim that you were making, “Flying is a privilege, not a right.” There is a pretty well-established constitutional right to travel.

    That’s not arguing that the TSA itself is a violation of that right. But flying is decidedly not a privilege.

    Of course there are things done in the name of aviation security that likely do impinge seriously on constitutional rights, such as a secret no fly list that isn’t subject to judicial review, take for instance an American citizen stranded abroad because they are denied boarding based on a secret listing that they cannot appeal. Sometimes that’s more burdensome than other times, for instance, a recent story of someone stranded in Hawaii there’s no convenient land crossing. When it happens in Europe one cannot even fly to Mexico and cross back by land via the Southern border since Europe-Mexico flights generally cross into US airspace. But a Canadian crossing will work.

    And much of what the TSA does is probably illegal insofar as there are (currently in litigation) violations of the Administrative Procedures Act in their rule-making. Courts have already said that pretty clearly, although it’s unlikely there will be much consequence for those violations. And for the purpose of this comment I’m not even arguing that there should be.

    I disagree with your read of Paul v Virginia that any regulation is acceptable as long as it’s uniformly-applied, the relevant question of the section is whether free ingress is hindered. If it is then it impinges on a right. Rights are impinged on all the time, the Supreme Court uses varying levels of scrutiny and applies balancing tests.

    But again, at most it’s balancing rights — not the case that travel is privilege rather than a right. Which is the full extent of my claim above 🙂

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