October 29, 2020

On the Road: Fast Airport Screening Is in Store for More

That’s terrific news for most frequent travelers, who have been envious of the relatively small number of select fliers who are so far able to use PreCheck, which allows preapproved travelers to use special security lanes when flying on participating airlines at 40 airports, without having to take laptops out of bags or remove shoes, belts, light outerwear and some other articles.

So why is it that I am a little skeptical about the prospects for a timely realization of this initiative?

It’s a work in progress, and a welcome one, too. But let’s just say the agency hasn’t exactly been on a roll lately. Last month, the director, John S. Pistole, was maneuvered by flight attendants’ unions and their supporters in Congress into an embarrassing retreat from a rules relaxation that he had previously insisted would stay in place — one allowing passengers to carry small pocketknives. A month before that, under Congressional orders, the T.S.A. removed from checkpoints the last of about 250 widely criticized Rapiscan body-scanner machines, which it had vigorously defended for years against claims that the X-ray technology invaded personal privacy.

The agency didn’t make Mr. Pistole available for comment on the new PreCheck plan. But on July 19, when he first announced the expansion to an applauding audience of security policy makers, corporate technology representatives and news media at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, Mr. Pistole deftly dodged a question about the retreat on pocketknives. Instead, he changed the subject to what he has described as the agency’s main concern, the overriding potential threat posed by terrorists with concealed explosives.

Certainly, there has been little opposition to the idea of expanding PreCheck, which began in October 2011 with enrollment mainly limited to the highest-level elite-status fliers nominated by participating airlines. Later, PreCheck also became available to those enrolled in Global Entry, a popular Customs and Border Protection program that lets travelers returning from abroad re-enter the country without enduring long lines at passport control and Customs. Instead, they use special fast-pass kiosks where their fingerprints are verified. About 700,000 travelers are now enrolled in Global Entry.

Mr. Pistole, who has referred to the new PreCheck initiative as “Global Entry Lite,” has long advocated reducing the focus on the things passengers carry, while emphasizing multiple levels of so-called risk-based security, including trusted or known-traveler programs. He said earlier that roughly 40 million of the 640 million passengers who annually pass through security at the nation’s 450 commercial airports were frequent fliers, mainly business travelers. These fliers are presumably “known and trusted,” and as such are prospects for lighter security measures.

The PreCheck expansion will start this fall with enrollment centers at two airports, Washington-Dulles and Indianapolis. More enrollment centers will be opened as PreCheck is significantly expanded beyond the 40 airports where it is now in place. In the first year, the T.S.A. estimates that about 383,000 people will be processed.

Applicants apply online, entering information for a background check and paying an $85 fee. They then report to enrollment centers for fingerprinting. Within three weeks, an approved passenger will receive a Known Traveler Number that allows PreCheck eligibility to appear on airline boarding passes. Enrollment centers will be opened throughout the fall at airports nationwide, an agency spokesman said.

As I said, enrolling 25 percent of travelers by the end of this year sounds pretty optimistic. Global Entry, for example, is so popular that many new applicants report long waits for appointments at some enrollment centers for fingerprinting and a personal interview. A personal interview isn’t required for PreCheck. Still, new enrollment centers will need to be built, in many cases at airports where security areas are already seriously crowded and limited by space.

Airport managers welcome broadening PreCheck as “the best thing since sliced bread,” said Christopher Bidwell, the vice president for security and facilitation at the Airports Council International-North America. But he added that some managers wondered “what it’s going to look like at smaller airports that need to make space available for new enrollment centers” once the program expanded widely.

The T.S.A. guidelines for airports using PreCheck, incidentally, require that the special lanes use the old-fashioned walk-through metal detectors, which allow passengers to be screened while carrying nonmetallic items like wallets and wearing belts or light jackets. That would seem to thwart the T.S.A.’s expensive years-old plan to eventually replace all walk-through metal detectors with new body-scan machines that can detect anything on the body or in clothing, not just metal. While the Rapiscan X-ray machines are now gone, similar body-scanners that use less controversial millimeter-wave technology remain in place at most checkpoints. Once PreCheck expands, more metal detectors will need to be put back into service, I would think.

As I said, it’s a work in progress.

E-mail: jsharkey@nytimes.com

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/30/business/fast-airport-screening-is-in-store-for-more.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

J.C. Penney’s Chief, Ron Johnson, Announces Plans to Revamp Stores

“We want to be the favorite store for everyone, for all Americans rich and poor, young and old,” Mr. Johnson said at a meeting with about 700 investors and media members. “This isn’t your favorite department store. Our ambitions are much higher. We want to be your favorite store.”

J. C. Penney has been struggling as shoppers turn away from midtier department stores and malls. In November, its sales at stores open at least a year fell 2 percent, and in December, same-store sales rose 0.3 percent, both well below industry averages.

From 2006 to 2011, “J. C. Penney has had the worst performance among peers,” a Barclays Capital analyst, Robert Drbul, wrote in a note to clients.

Mr. Johnson said Penney would turn to a three-tiered pricing structure: regular prices, monthlong special prices and clearance prices.

Currently, Mr. Johnson said, 72 percent of Penney’s revenue comes from products sold at a discount of 50 percent or more. The company is currently repricing all its items to fit within the three tiers. For instance, a T-shirt that was priced last year at $14 but sold closer to $6 after promotions will now be priced at $7.

It will not adopt an everyday low price strategy like Walmart’s, the company said, meaning it will not focus on always having the lowest price versus competitors.

Mr. Johnson said the company would simplify its sales events to 12 a year. In 2011, Penney ran 590 unique promotions, he said, and the average customer visited just four times.

“So customers ignored us 99 percent of the time,” he said. “At some point, you, as a brand, look desperate if you have to market that much.” He will move to monthlong promotions, on which Penney will spend $80 million a month, he said. And instead of mailed fliers, the company will have a 96-page magazinelike circular.

Penney also announced a new spokeswoman, Ellen DeGeneres; a new logo (a red outline of a box with a blue box containing “jcp” in the corner of it); and a new designer partnership with Nanette Lepore, who will create a line of clothing for teenagers.

In an interview, Mr. Johnson said there were no plans to close stores.

“Why would we go close stores when we haven’t gotten the whole concept right yet? It doesn’t really make sense,” he said. “Now we’d love to be in malls that are all thriving, but the truth is not all malls thrive.”

J. C. Penney has more than 1,100 stores in the United States. More than 60 percent of Penney stores as of 2010 had been built in the 1980s or before, according to Barclays Capital.

Over the next three and a half years, Penney will divide its stores into 100 unique shops, to try to give a specialty-store feeling to the floor. “When we want a great product today we go to a specialty store — we might go to J. Crew, we might go to HM, Uniqlo,” Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Johnson also said he would create a “town square” in the middle of each store that will offer services, along the lines of Apple’s Genius Bar.

Mr. Johnson declined to provide details, but said that the town squares would “dramatically enhance the experience of going to J. C. Penney, because there will be services that you can enjoy before you want to buy, as you want to buy, after you’ve bought.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=802011aeac504c82d72ebd507e6bcb16

Bucks Blog: Wednesday Reading: Sleep Tips for Fliers in Coach

September 28

Wednesday Reading: Sleep Tips for Fliers in Coach

Tips for sleeping in coach, redesigned S.U.V.’s result in fewer crash deaths, OnStar won’t collect data from ex-subscribers and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=14344c063459228e9ede9f820522ea05

Media Decoder: The Next Daily Deal

SaverTime Web site The new SaverTime Web service.

The daily deal coupon world is set to get a little bigger on Monday when the company behind the direct mail PennySaver fliers known throughout California begins a Web service called SaverTime.

“We’ve always been the champion of the little guy,” said Loren Dalton, president of PennySaverUSA.com and SaverTime.com. “We’re trying to help even the field for them as they play against the big boys online now.”

The SaverTime site is intended to compete with the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial in a few important ways, Mr. Dalton said. Placing a deal with the service is free for a small business, which then splits the revenue evenly with SaverTime.

The company says its deals are aimed at more specific geographic locations than just a ZIP code. People who use a coupon will receive a SaverTime Sequel coupon for a similar offer, which is aimed at creating repeat business, Mr. Dalton said.

“I was really pleased with the fact that this was more territorial, more segmented to my area,” said Lynn Sanders, the owner of the Earth Wise Nutritional Centers outlet in Lake Forest, Calif.

Ms. Sanders is offering customers $40 worth of vitamins for $20. “In today’s economy people want to get the best buys,” she said. “Once I get someone in the door I have the opportunity to show what I’m all about.”

There are also incentives for those who register their friends. SaverTime’s 5-3-2 Network allows a user to get a credit of 2 to 5 percent of the dollar amount of purchases made by people associated with that user’s network.

The service will be available on Monday in about 20 areas in California, and the company says it is training nearly 400 sales representatives to sell Web coupons in addition to print coupons.

People interested in SaverTime deals can sign up for an e-mail alert or go to the Web site. A SaverTime mobile application is in the works, and the site encourages people outside California to “tell us where you would like to see us next!”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=6456afe015f9669f23db16c0342a0b1a