Pre✓ or Not Pre✓?

T he kiosk spit out my boarding pass as I begin my unintentional journey around the world; and for the first time, I was not eligible for the Transportation Security Administration Pre✓ line.

For the first time in who knows how long, I will have to take off my shoes; remove my bag liquids which somehow finds its way to the deepest crevice of my bag which I did not know existed; and walk through the full-body scanner.

Ugh. “First-world” problem; but ugh.

I looked at the line, which seemed to snake for miles. Fortunately, I arrived at the airport early. I was already bummed that this flight offered the opportunity to volunteer for a “bump”; but because I am catching a different flight on a different airline as part of a different itinerary, I could not chance it, as my trip would have been ruined from the start.

I arrived at the entrance point to the line when an agent of the Transportation Security Administration waved me into a different line where there was only one person ahead of me.

Huh?!? Did I misinterpret him?

My boarding pass and passport were checked as I was greeted with “Have a nice day.” The person from whom you would normally expect “barking” advised everyone in a civil and polite tone to not take off shoes and not remove anything from our bags — and passengers were being passed through a traditional scanner rather than the full-body scanner.

A woman asked an agent of the Transportation Security Administration if there was some way she could be in the Pre✓ line instead of this one. The response was that this line was “just like Pre✓.”

Was this a Pre✓ line without the Pre✓?

I had no idea — but who cared? Not I.

Other than the stylish woman who kept removing jewelry one at a time because the scanner kept alerting of metallic objects, the passage through the airport security checkpoint was smooth — and the agents of the Transportation Security Administration could not have been more pleasant and civil.

The airplane is at the gate. The weather is partly cloudy, yet the sun is shining.

This trip is off to a good start…

  1. In the past having TSA Pre would not do any good if you were catching a domestic flight to then connect into an international one. They would make you take your shoes off, check your laptop, etc.. However, the same happened to me last week when I was connecting from MSP to ATL to then get an international flight to GRU. I had no TSA Pre stamped on my domestic boarding pass but when I went to the regular line I was told to go to the TSA Pre line and went through without having to take shoes or laptop. I did not ask why but I did not complain. 🙂

  2. I’ve never gone to the TSA PreCheck line. :/ Ah well. I always go to the airport early so even going to the main line is not an issue for me.

  3. Last week, I flew from Newark to Houston. I am a US Air Gold member, and was flying on American under my US account. I have never applied for pre-check; however, when I downloaded my mobile boarding pass, it said “TSA pre-check” on it (as well as “Priority AAccess”). I approached the security line and it had three lanes: Basic, Priority and pre-check. Basic had a short line, Priority had no line, and the pre-check line was a mile long. The TSA agent (one of the nastiest women I’ve ever met) was barking at everybody that if their ticket said pre-check on it, they HAD to go through the pre-check lane.

    Instead of waiting in that long line, I went to the ticketing kiosk to get a hard copy printed; that too said “TSA Precheck” on it (as well as “Priority AAccess”). I went back to security and tried to nonchalantly walk in the Priority line. The TSA agent told me to show her the ticket, I pointed at the “priority” on it, and she told me I still had to go through pre-check. I told her that I never enrolled in pre-check and she told me that it didn’t matter.

    I admitted defeat and went over to the pre-check line. To my surprise, I saw other people walking into the priority lane without issue. Even more surprising, most of the people in the pre-check line were confused because they weren’t enrolled in the pre-check program either. To add insult to injury, the TSA agents working the machines complained about how slow the line was moving because “it seems like nobody did pre-check before”.

    Has anybody had an experience where they were forced to use the pre-check line against their will? At best it’s only an inconvenience, and at worst, it creates a vulnerability to airline security.

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