What Airport Security Costs You

The federal government plans to beef up airport security, but that costs more than it might seem.

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But these costs have to be measured against the massive damage that would be done to the economy if another terrorist attack were to occur. The September 11 attacks, for example, cost New York City's economy $27 billion during the 15 months following the attacks alone, according to the New York City comptroller.

Poole says there are ways to reduce delays without compromising security. One idea is the creation of a registered travel program. Frequent fliers could undergo extensive background checks and, if they pass, would receive biometric cards that would allow them to pass through a quicker security line at the airport. Think of it as a fast-pass lane at toll road stations.

Travelers might be able to sign up for such a program soon. Erroll Southers, President Obama's nominee for head of the TSA, said in a congressional hearing that he supports the idea of some kind of registered traveler program.