The TSA Is So Incompetent, It Can’t Even Make a URL

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 29 2013 7:43 PM

The TSA Is So Incompetent, It Can’t Even Make a URL

A TSA agent waits for passengers to use the PreCheck lane.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In the latest bout of brilliance handed down from the Transportation Security Administration, more frequent fliers and other elite passengers will soon be eligible for something called “expedited screening benefits.” Features include special screening lanes and the luxury of not having to remove your shoes and belt like a common terrorist.

OK, all of that is rather uninteresting—unless you’re the kind of person who thinks programs like the Cedar Point VIP Tour are grossly classist.* (I do.) What’s interesting about TSA Pre✓™—which launched on a small scale in 2011 but is now expanding—is that it’s nearly impossible to go directly to the website by typing in the site’s Web address—because the checkmark and trademark characters are actually part of the URL.

The checkmark and TM make the URL problematic

Screengrab from


If you copy and paste the link, you wind up with this monstrosity:

The TSA wasn’t even smart or kind enough to create* redirects for any of the shortened versions people would be likely to use. (Like leaving off either mark or typing “precheck” as a good ol’ American word.) Sure, those interested will probably just Google the program, but anyone who has worked in Web development can tell you this is the strangest, most bass-ackward gimmick we’ve seen in a long time. In other words: Keep up the good work, TSA.

[Via Reddit, by way of Phil Armstrong.]

Update, April 30, 2013: It appears that the URL now redirects to the much more logical How's that for responsive government?

Correction, April 29, 2013: This blog post originally judged the Disney FASTPASS® as grossly classist, but as commenter Pete R. pointed out, the Disney program is free and available to all. The post now refers instead to the VIP Tour at Cedar Point, where guests can pay $395 to have a park representative personally walk them to the front of the line all day.

Correction, April 30, 2013: This blog post also originally said that the TSA could buy a redirect. The TSA would only need to create a redirect.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.


It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

It’s Fine to Use Facebook to Serve People With Legal Papers, Court Rules

  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?