Two weeks ago in this space, I helped a reader locate the expedited security lines for first-class passengers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. (Those lines recently moved to checkpoints 2 and 4 in the main terminal; she'd thought they'd disappeared.) The Q&A exchange elicited strong reaction from some readers upset that the Transportation Security Administration would give preferential treatment to first-class passengers.
No one likes to wait while others get a quick pass, but the TSA really isn't to blame for that particular first-class perk. The airlines manage the lines leading to the TSA checkpoints at MSP, even reviewing tickets at those reserved for first-class ticket holders. TSA controls the checkpoints, those areas that passengers enter after they present their ID and boarding pass to a TSA officer.
"I understand that first-class passengers get to board the plane sooner, get better food, more service, more legroom, etc., but that is because they have paid the airline more money for those privileges. But have they paid the TSA more money? By what authority [does TSA] discriminate between different classes of airline passengers?" read one e-mail that captures the tone of others.
"TSA screens everyone to the same standard, no matter what line they come through," said TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon. She also explained that the screening process "starts even before passengers get to the airport, when each traveler is vetted against terrorist watch lists. Other layers of security include checked baggage screening, closed-circuit television monitoring, random gate checks, intelligence gathering and analysis, the use of federal air marshals and behavior detection officers, and explosives detection canine teams that move about the airport."
Patrick Hogan of the Metropolitan Airports Commission offered this background: "Before the TSA was formed, the airlines also were in control of the security checkpoints and the companies that did the security screening did so under contract to the airlines. While the TSA now does the actual screening, the lines are still managed by the airlines."
AIRLINE UPDATEEarn Delta miles with app
Be an early adopter for Delta and pocket some miles. To entice passengers to try its new Fly Delta app, the carrier is offering 1,000 miles. With the app, travelers can load and store their boarding pass on their mobile device, then flash their gadget at TSA security. To participate, you must be a SkyMiles member, register for the deal at dmn.delta.com/ace_offers/summermobile and use the app for travel by Sept. 7. The service, available free from the Apple App Store, Blackberry App World and Android Market, also provides flight status, gate information and more.
THIS JUST IN3 new World Heritage sites
UNESCO has beefed up its World Heritage list with three additions: Hiraizumi - Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land in Japan; the Ancient Beech Forests in Germany; and Bridgetown and its Garrison in Barbados, a first for the Caribbean country.
CHICAGOStar show light-years ahead
Visitors to the remodeled Adler Planetarium dome in Chicago can fly to galaxies beyond the Milky Way at the country's most advanced star show. With resolution eight times clearer than the best digital cinema, the attraction, "Deep Space Adventure," showcases not only the solar system but the wider universe. The show is like being in a simulator without the dizziness of a carnival ride. Details at www.adlerplanetarium.org.
DETROIT FREE PRESS
MUSEUM FREEBIESDiscounts for military
Active-duty military members can receive free entry to more than 1,000 museums across the United States through Sept. 5. Details: www.nea.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS
SIDEROADSFestival has Swiss flavor
Yodeling, folk dancing and ethnic food will draw visitors to Berne Swissfest, one of the state's oldest cultural festivals, next weekend in Berne, Minn. The annual festival has been moved to July 30-31, a week earlier than usual, and will feature Swiss band music, handbell concerts, a worship service, sack races, flag throwing and craft demonstrations. Also, in honor of the Swiss Alps, a 24-foot rock climbing wall will be available on Saturday only (1-800-322-2478; www.swissfest.org).
COLLEEN A. COLES