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'Trusted Traveler' Program to Create Two-Tier Approach to Airport Security

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Money can get you out of a lot of things in America. Thanks to our tax code, the super-rich can effectively opt out of the progressive tax system. They can practically kill someone in a hit-and-run without drawing a felony charge.

Soon, that kind of privilege will be available at the airport – and you won't even have to be a millionaire to take advantage of it. For a modest fee and a background check, you can achieve the dream that's now available only to private-jet passengers: to fly without taking off your shoes in public.

In the next few weeks, the Transportation Security Administration will start inviting certain frequent fliers to join its “trusted traveler” program, scheduled to kick off this fall. For the lucky ones, that will mean special, faster security lines. It will also mean freedom from many of flying's little indignities: They'll get to leave their computers in their bags, their shoes on their feet, and their private parts off of TSA body-scanner screens.

Trusted travelers won't always evade the security rules that govern the great unwashed, though. They can still face random screenings, for one. If someone on the terrorist watch list is on a flight, all bets are off. And as founder George Hobica points out to MSN Money, airlines control the lines leading up to the screening stations, and they'll be able to temporarily pull the special lines in some cases.

If you're just looking to skip the line for free, and you're a dirty, unscrupulous liar, Hobica has another method that might work: “Show your boarding pass to the TSA agent and say, 'My flight is leaving in 10 minutes,'” he tells MSN Money. “They'll escort you to the front of the line.”

Unless, of course, the agent actually checks your departure time. Then you're likely to be kicked to the back of the line and flagged for an extra-special pat-down by an angry, latex-glove-wearing federal screener. So we don't recommend you try that one, actually.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.