TSA PreCheck Makes Your Life Better — So Why Don't More People Do it?
There are so many reasons to be frustrated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the bureaucracy created after 9/11 to make air travel safer.
Many of the rules are just so dumb! Three ounces of liquid per bottle? Right, because terrorists would never think of traveling together and pooling their liquids. No knives or forks allowed through security? Really? Even the ones handed to you on the plane by the flight attendants?
But there’s one thing the TSA is doing right, and that’s TSA PreCheck. Or “1999 mode,” as I like to call it.
Even when TSA PreCheck signs are posted, most travelers don’t realize that these are special lines with different security requirements. (Photos: David Pogue)
These are special lanes at airport security that are reserved for people who the TSA believes aren’t security risks, where you don’t have to take off your shoes, belt, and jacket. You don’t have to pull out your laptop and toiletry bag. You don’t have to put your arms up inside some whole-body scanner like you’re getting mugged. Instead, it’s exactly like traveling before 9/11.
If you know about PreCheck, and you’re already a member, great! Next article.
But here’s the thing: On at least 50 percent of my trips through security, I see people who don’t realize that they’re in a special line. They take off their shoes, belts, watches, and jackets. They pull out their laptops and toiletries. They defeat the purpose of the PreCheck program and hold up everybody else — simply because nobody has ever explained what it is.
(I don’t think the government’s graphic designers are doing the program any favors. The logo makes it look like the word is “PreV,” which means nothing to anyone.)
Some travelers may look at the green checkmark in the TSA PreCheck logo and instead think it’s the letter V.
A couple of years ago, PreCheck was obscure. It was just a pilot program. Travelers were selected to participate at random, only a few airlines participated, and those selected didn’t get to use the PreCheck lane every time. You’d just see the happy little logo on your boarding pass or smartphone app and know that you were selected to use those lanes for this flight.