I am writing this post from the American Airline’s D49 Gate at Miami International Airport. It is 6:41am. For the second time, my husband Eliot and I skipped the usual 45 minute security line because we belong to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Pre-Check Trusted Traveler Program. We no longer have to wait on endless security lines that usually adds panic to our forever trek from the check-in point to the New York bound gate at the end of the terminal. Ever notice that most flights headed to NY are relegated to the furthest gates?
The pre-check program is very important to us because we usually take an early morning flight out from Miami to NY. That means getting up at 4am to shower and do all of the morning rituals in less than an hour. We are out the door by 6 and at the airport by 6:30 for a 7:30 am flight. Not a minute to spare.
The TSA Pre-Check is one of the most wonderful results of the digital revolution. You are pre-screened once you opt-in online. No more removing shoes, laptops, toiletries and lighter outer clothing. I feel like we are “Forward To The Past,” pre 9/11. There is a special security line for the Pre-Check passengers. You walk right through while everyone else is giving you dirty looks, especially the First Class passengers who are not happy about being upstaged and are clueless about this program.
We also belong to the Global Entry program. For $100 you can fill out a form online, then subordinate yourself to an in-person interview where you get finger printed and have your photo taken. If you clear the screening, you receive an identity card and a sticker on your passport that allows you expedited clearance at customs when you enter the United States.
I was so nervous for my interview. I didn’t know what they were going to ask. I rehearsed the “Pledge Of Allegiance” and “The Star Spangled Banner” many times the night before. I memorized the list of Presidents of the United States and who was serving in the current administration. The interview was nothing like that at all. They asked some basic questions and I signed a few documents. I did get extremely nervous when the electronic scanner could not capture my fingerprints. I had to try about 10 times, which required me washing my fingers with hand wipes, powder, and tissues. It was so embarrassing and brought up old childhood memories of me thinking I was really from another planet. Then another police officer came to my rescue when he discovered that my name was spelled wrong on the application which had stopped the process. Whew, maybe I am human.
I could go on and on about the virtues of both programs, but the digital genius of The New York Times, David Pogue, did a blog post about this last week. You should give it a read. http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/zipping-through-airport-security/
No one explains it better than Pogue.