25 December 2007

18-December-2007 : To Register Or Not To Register That Is The Question! Should You Be A Registered Traveler?

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

18-December-2007 : To Register Or Not To Register That Is The Question! Should You Be A Registered Traveler?

The subject of the "Registered Traveler" system comes up often among those who travel in the United States and even those who don't travel often but are looking for a way to travel through the airport faster. This subject recently came up again about a week ago from a photographer friend of mine Seshu Badrinath (www.seshu.net), who lives just up the road from me in Connecticut.

I remember being approached about the Registered Traveler Pilot Program a number of years ago while traveling through Washington DC's Reagan National Airports (DCA) and thinking that the system was a huge invasion of my privacy. I am not a conspiracy theory person and I don't believe that there are black helicopters that hover over my house, however I do like to keep my private information........well private; nevertheless I was not totally turned off to this new emerging concept.

As I have increased my travel I have revisited the idea of using the Registered Traveler Program, even at the risk of giving up a scan of my retina, a copy of my finger prints and giving up US$100 per year for the privilege of a speedier journey through the airports security lines.

As I weight the pros and cons or what the system I get caught up in certain details that I find important.

1) I don't find the security lines all that irritating. Most days the wait is 15 minutes if there is no "elite" security line, and honestly I only see the Registered Traveler Program as something useful for heavy frequent fliers who would have access to the "elite" security lines when they are present.

2) The Registered Traveler Program is limited a very small number of airports. For me only one of the five "local" (within 100 miles of my house) airports I look at has the program, and that one airport does not have it in all terminals. Only one of the airports I travel through with any frequency has the program, and they offer elite security lines which I have access to.

3) Right now the front runner for the Registered Traveler Program is Clear, www.flyclear.com . The only airports that have Clear Lanes are
Albany, NY (ALB)
Cincinnati, OH (CVG)
Denver, CO (DEN)
Indianapolis, IN (IND)
Jacksonville, FL (JAX) ........expected soon
Little Rock, AK (LIT)
Newark, NJ (EWR)........NOT at all security check points
New York (JFK & LGA) .....but only NOT at all terminals
Orlando, FL (MCO)
Reno, NV (RNO) .......expected shortly
San Francisco, CA (SFO)
San Jose, CA (SJC)
White Plains, NY (HPN)

For me the only airport I would actually use Registered Traveler for would be at JFK's Terminal 7, which is used by United Airlines and Air Canada (and British Airways, however I don't tend to fly British Airways). While I fly through SFO often, they have dedicated Elite Lines which I will continue to have access to through my status with BMI (BD)while flying United Airlines (UA), US Airways (US) and any other Star Alliance (*A) carrier in SFO.

I am sure I may reevaluate this again the future when the Registered Traveler Program expands beyond a group of airports that make up less than 1% of the commercial airports in the United States. As for now, I don't see my three primary airports, New Haven (HVN), Providence (PVD) or Hartford/Springfield (BDL) having the Registered Traveler Program in place any times soon (although who would have though White Plain (HPN) or Albany (ALB) would have had it at this point?)

Happy Flying!

2 comments:

Lost Manifesto said...

I was just about to send you a link to the Clear Card and get your thoughts and then I read this post. If you get your hands on one I would love to know how well it works. I still havent seen one in action thats what I am waiting for. Also to hear a real travelers perspective to see if its worth it. Thanks! Jordan

flyingfish said...

Jordan

I am glad you found my view on the Registered Traveler program useful for you. It is a system that can be a great system, but it is to limiting to be of any use to 99% of the flyers out there.

If I could get Clear Card at PVD or BDL (or even better, both!) I'd probably pony up the $99 just to see if the system works as effectively as it is reported to. I hear mixed reviews from some frequent flyers, so my opinion is based entirely on my needs as a flyer and only my needs, travel habits, frequented airports as a flyer.

Happy Flying!

-Fish