The FAA and TSA have a new partnership where people facing fines for unruly behavior will have PreCheck revoked. As the FAA Administrator puts it, “If you act out of line, you will wait in line.”
Unruly airline passengers may face additional consequences for bad behavior under a new partnership between the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Under the partnership, the FAA will share information of passengers facing fines for unruly behavior with TSA who may remove the passenger from TSA PreCheck screening eligibility, which is a privilege reserved for low-risk travelers.
‘Facing fines’ means, effectively, being charged with bad behavior but where there’s not yet been a determination that a flyer has done anything wrong.
Make no mistake: there should be penalties for violent behavior on an aircraft (as there should be anywhere). There should be penalties for forcing a flight to divert, creating huge costs for an airline and significant inconvenience for other passengers. Those penalties should be civil and criminal. And they should be subject to judicial review.
However this appears to be an abuse of the PreCheck program. PreCheck involves vetting a passenger in advance and identifying them as a lower security risk.
What it means is that a passenger,
- Doesn’t have to take off their shoes
- Doesn’t have to take their liquids out of their carry on for separate screening
- And can go through a metal detector instead of a nude-o-scope
There’s literally zero indication that committing an inflight disturbance and not committing a terrorist act correlates with an increased risk of trying to be a shoe bomber on a future trip, or trying to bring explosive liquids through a security checkpoint. In fact the opposite is probably the case. An intended terrorist isn’t going to want to draw the scrutiny of an inflight incident in advance of any attempt to do something more untoward on an aircraft.
You might say ‘the person is a threat to the aircraft so they’re not a lower security threat’ but they are less of a threat (or certainly no more of one) in the ways in which PreCheck reduces checkpoint screening.
And if the person is indeed a greater threat, in ways relevant to the PreCheck program, then the huge uptick in passenger incidents during the pandemic represent a failure of that screening system and PreCheck officials should be resigning. It isn’t one, though, unless you think mask resistance correlates with membership in al Qaeda. (It doesn’t.)
Taking away PreCheck is intended as an administrative punishment, a way for the government to punish people who behave badly without the pesky interference of judicial review. Using the PreCheck program for something other than airport security is a problem. And a government agency doing so to skirt judicial review is as well. And that’s why this particular tactic is troubling, even as I’m sympathetic to the goal of deterring unruly behavior on aircraft.