At the beginning of the year, there was a lot of noise about rolling out a Registered Traveler program — where, in exchange for a $100 fee and a more detailed background check, a (presumably frequent) traveler would gain the ability to pass more quickly through the TSA security screening. However, the program died from lack of interest because the TSA never said what parts of the screening experience a Registered Traveler could avoid. Indeed, the preliminary indications coming out of the TSA were that a Registered Traveler would be subject to the same screening as everyone else. Then what do I get for my $100 and hassle of a background check? No one could answer, and so the program withered away.
Now, however, I wonder if a way out of the problems with the current carry-on restrictions is a Registered Traveler program. This time, though, the value proposition would be relaxed carry-on restrictions. In exchange for $100 and voluntarily giving up my privacy, I get to carry on 3-4 travel-sized toiletries — small tubes of toothpaste, hair gel, skin creme — and a cup of coffee. With the growing frustration of frequent travelers, I think this idea has legs.