First Class and elite member security lanes at airports going away?

This is not a belated April Fools. Senator Ben Nelson from Nebraska introduced legislation that would remove preferred security lines from U.S. airports. Citing them as having nothing to do with safety (doesn’t he realize the pun there?), he feels that since all passengers pay the same “security” fee in their tickets, everyone should be treated the same.

The bill he’s proposing only restricts airlines and airports from establishing this elite and first class perk I, and probably everyone I know, would sorely miss, but would allow the TSA to operate dedicated fast-track PreCheck screening already seen at today’s airports.

While PreCheck has been expanding, it’s not everywhere and I have yet to experience it as a United elite mainly flying out of LAX. I received my invite to the program from American when it first started, but I’ve since refocused my flying with United to hit the million-miler mark this year. United is probably too busy with the merger and prolonged SHARES transition issues to offer its elites access and coordinate with the airports to dedicate security lanes.

I think Henry Harteveldt put it best when he told a Times reporter that such a measure would, “penalize people who help keep the airlines in business.” He continued, “If airport security becomes slower, business people will travel less. It will harm the entire air transport industry.”

I certainly don’t keep United in business with my mostly bottom-feeder fares, but I’d be outraged if Premier Access went away and I hadn’t yet gotten into PreCheck or Global Entry.

Also, the ancillary revenue airlines would lose by not being able to sell access to elite lines would probably top their legislative agenda if this bill gets traction. I don’t think it’s going to happen.

The bill has been referred to a Senate committee for consideration.

What do you think?

[poll id=”7″]


  1. Just another bill that will just die in the process. Great waste of money and our time.

    Once the TSA’s pre-check program is implemented across the country then I am pretty sure those priority lanes will start to disappear.

  2. He is right in logic, of course, in that the Feds have no business supporting one group (frequent flyers) over others who pay the same fee. However, logic and the TSA are not bedfellows.

    Another thought – all federal legislators and other hangers on should be required to use the general security line, along with POTUS. Or perhaps even a slower one as people who work for government don’t pay any fee – we pay it on their behalf. That might be the fastest way to eliminate lines for all.

  3. This is definitely not in the best interest of the airlines. They won’t let this go very far and I’m sure the less well off members of congress still fly commercial and enjoy these lines. They won’t want them to go away either.

    This is just some dumb fluff to make Senator Nelson look like he’s on the people’s side making everything more egalitarian.

  4. I thought the airlines subsidized the priority lanes. Either way, surely the senator kind find a better issue to use for cheap publicity.

  5. Senator Nelson (being from Nebraska) likely has not had the long waits that we elites do flying out of our home airports. As a UA 1K who flies out of SEA if he wants to expedite PreCheck at all airports then maybe I’d consider it, but until then he needs to find a better use of taxpayer dollars!

  6. I get the idea that the security fees are equal, but by that logic, frequent flyers pay more in security fees annually than most.

  7. Like the deals but this blog like so many others are so predictable, Rep Ron Paul’s (R) worthless rants get extensive coverage but Sen. Ben Nelson (D) measures are dismissed as grandstanding? Oh and what about the 5-4 recent ruling alllowing multiple invasive strip searches even for minor misdemeanor charges and cases of FALSE ARREST? (Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington 2012) Another joy brought to us by the Far-Right Republican Police State Machine on the court, wonder what this may have to do with the “Police Powers” of Homeland Sec Dept and TSA?

  8. Thanks for the feedback and comments, everyone! As of right now, 84% of you think priority security lanes should remain. I think a vote in Congress would mirror these results.

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