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Sep 24 2013

TSA Pre

How much of your privacy are you willing to trade away for your convenience?

While this sounds like a philosophical question, for me it recently became completely practical.

I recently opted to go through the process to get certified for TSA Pre status. The US government’s GOES program is a designed to expedite reentry into the US after an International trip. Skipping the line at Customs coming back into the country is a wonderful thing. Details are available for that part of the process here on the GOES website.

The real reason that I went through the process was to avoid this.

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TSA Pre status means that you get to skip the morass of general linedom at this list of airports and go straight to a short line.

Oh, and leave your shoes on…and your belt…and your liquids can stay in your carry on. Generally TSA actually treats you with a relative level of respect above the strip search norm. Yes Virginia, you can actually repurchase your dignity from the TSA.

There are some requirements of course. There is an $85 charge ($100 if you take the GOES route) that registers you for a five year period. You have to set up an appointment with a GOES office and go make a brief interview. I actually set up a long layover at O’Hare to accomplish this. Do beware that if you do this at O’Hare the office is on the lower level of Terminal 5, so you will have to exit security and be rechecked. Getting your status takes about 24 hours, so you won’t get to go through the “beautiful people” line on the way back in here.

The interview was cursory at best, with a couple of basic questions and the most intimidating part being having a full set of fingerprints taken by a scanning machine and put on file.

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They will eventually send you a Trusted Traveler card, although I am unclear what it is actually for. The GOES process is driven off of your passport at their kiosks when your go through the customs process. The TSA Pre status is printed on your boarding pass. When you book a flight or if you save data on your airlines website their is a place to enter a “known traveler number” this cues the process.

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When you arrive at the airport, there should be signs or to a separate area or a separate line that is marked for TSA Pre. My first experience was wonderful. The line was three people deep and the entire process took about 90 seconds. I even took my jacket off and ran it through the Xray for old times sake. I nearly wept with joy. That is only mildly sarcastic, it was a vastly more pleasurable experience.

I even waltzed right by somebody that I knew if the long security line without even noticing them. He texted me a venomous message to let me know that it had not passed his attention.

To qualify you must be a member of one of the following Frequent Flyer programs.

TSA Pre✓™ Locations By Airline

Alaska Airlines
American Airlines
Delta Air Lines
Hawaiian Airlines
United Airlines
US Airways
Virgin America

Wish I had done this long ago. It made going to the airport not so much like going to the airport!

I would definitely rank it as “worth the money” if you travel on any kind of regular basis and you fly through one of the airports that supports the program.

Additional info is available here.

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