The TSA PreCheck area at LAX Terminal 2
Let’s make one thing clear: TSA PreCheck is great. If you’ve flown anytime in the past few years, you’ve seen (or perhaps even been the beneficiaries of) the “PreCheck” lanes that some passengers use to zip past the general security lines, or even the premium lanes. Those who see others scoot all the way out of sight and/or get to keep their shoes on are envious; those who randomly received PreCheck access once are even more so.
For the low low price of $85, the Transportation Security Administration will grant a passenger the privilege of getting PreCheck most (not all) of the time. They’re in charge of keeping the flying public safe, and they’re not a for-profit institution, so we can trust them at their word, right?
NO! What they don’t tell you is that there are other ways to enroll in TSA’s PreCheck program without a) writing a check to TSA and b) paying less, or at least getting more out of what you pay.
Gogo’s 737-500, N321GG a.k.a. the “Jimmy Ray”
Ok, I’ll admit that this flight review will be on an aircraft that 99.99% of the public won’t ever get the chance to fly, and I do feel badly about that… but it’s simply too cool for school to be on a private 737, more so because this particular 737 (a -500 model, reg. no. N321GG) currently has the fastest publicly-available inflight Wi-Fi Internet system in the world.
Gogo invited AirlineReporter and other media outlets to take flight on the “Jimmy Ray” to test out their new 2Ku system, which was debuted for the first time outside the company. While other tech-oriented companions were obsessed with reloading Speedtest and hammering the system with live streams, content streams, live feeds, and downloads, I was busy poking around the cabin features and amenities. Yea… I am an AvGeek.
A TransAsia ATR crashes – Photo: @Missxoxo168
UPDATE 2/4/15 7:00AM PST: The Associated Press is reporting that the death toll from the accident has risen to 25, with 18 people still unaccounted for. Per civil aviation authorities in Taiwan, the pilot had logged nearly 5,000 flight hours. The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder (“Black Boxes”) have been recovered, which should assist authorities in determining the cause(s) of the crash.
TransAsia Flight 235 (GE235), an ATR72-600, has crashed during takeoff while en route from Taipei Sung Shan (TSA) to Kinmen Shang-Yi Airport (KNH), in the Fujian Province. The aircraft, reg# B-22816, was only 10 months old at the time of the crash.
Rescuers and passengers can be seen on the bank with the TransAsia ATR72 in the background – Photo: Yung Jen
Video and photos show the aircraft at a steep angle flying over an overpass and then into the Keelung River. At the time of this update, there have been three reported passenger deaths with another few injured.
I was recently invited to sit down with a local news outlet to discuss TSA’s Pre ✓™ program from the perspective of a frequent flyer who hadn’t signed up, and questions its utility as the program stands today. To be clear, I do not see the program as a threat to security. Instead, the program’s benefits simply aren’t compelling enough for me to part with $85 and take the time to be interviewed and fingerprinted.
$85 isn’t unreasonable, and there is even an interview site here in my Kansas City suburb. The idea of fingerprinting and background checks don’t bother me either since I’ve been through both as a basis for employment.
Instead, the “gotcha” for me is the fact that while having never signed up for TSA Pre✓™ I have experienced it first-hand many, many times, and I’m just not convinced on its utility to me as a semi-frequent traveler. But why? It comes down to what I like to call the “TSA Pre✓™ dilemma.”