This morning, I arrived at the airport at 10:35a for my 11:22a flight to Chicago-O’Hare, IL (ORD). United’s Terminal C in Houston-Intercontinental (IAH) was pretty dead, but that’s expected as today is Saturday, a slow travel day for frequent flyers and the calm before the storm of the Thanksgiving travel period.
I approached the TSA Pre ✓™ lane and the usually blue-glove clad annoying lady pointed to the scanner without saying hello. I looked up at here and said “good morning” while holding my phone over the scanner, but as usual, nothing back from her. Why did she even come to work today? But I digress.
The machine beeped differently than normal and she pointed to the right lane instead of the normal left lane. It was like I’d won the jackpot! I’d been finally selected to experience TSA’s new program, TSA Pre ✓™.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, TSA Pre ✓™ is a new program by the TSA that allows you to bypass the what is now normal and annoying security protocols at U.S. airports. It was a long road getting to this place though.
I’m a current Global Entry member and if you are not, you should be as it saves you time and will be the best $100 you ever spent if you are an international traveler. As a Global Entry member, I’m an automatic trusted traveler and thus qualify for the TSA Pre ✓™ program. Requirements for the Global Entry program are pretty strict and thorough hence the qualifications for the TSA Pre ✓™ program.
After you get accepted in either the TSA Trusted Traveler program or Global Entry, you are given a number with which you place in your frequent traveler profile with the participating airline. If you are an airline employee, you enter this information in your airport security profile.
Now when you make a reservation, the number is associated with your reservation and if you scan your boarding pass at the participating airports, you may get a chance to use the system.
I did not think I qualified as every time since the beginning of September I believe when I entered my credentials, I’ve been denied access. I had asked a TSA agent about this and he advised that its ’cause my booking were within 24 hours and/or I was traveling internationally. He was right, so I did not press the issue.
Now oddly enough today, I had booked my ticket within 24 hours, so who knows. But my TSA Pre ✓™ virgin card was now punched so who cares anymore.
It was like how flying used to be; I got to keep my clothes on even my shoes and did not have to take my computer out of the bag. Just all the metals out of my pocket (I’m a guy, I have a lot of crap in my pocket, don’t you?) and best of all, I did not have to be zapped by extra radiation and told to stand still for three seconds with my hands above my head. Even the agents were nicer.
I’ll tell you, it was actually quite weird as I really did not know what to do. I was so conditioned into the current procedures. There weren’t even those pesky white trays just little white bowls. It was only myself and one other guy so I breezed through. There was one lady who was quizzing the TSA agent about why she was not selected. The agent gave her the shrugged shoulder I usually get when I ask.
I’m going to be a bit upset the next time I come through and I’m not selected.
How have your experience been? Please leave a comment below.