I like to travel with as little hassle as possible so I was delighted when my home airport, San Diego, separated its chaotic drop-off and pick-up lanes and expanded Terminal 2. More space, I thought, easier passage to the gate, less stress. On my first departure from the new facility, however, I soon found myself in an unhappy horde of the harried flowing at a glacial rate into security.
That’s when I first thought seriously about the advantages of getting “TSA pre-check” certified. Gaining this lofty status required an in-person interview at a federal office 45 minutes from home, however, and I kept putting it off. Then, on a later journey, after a 14-hour flight across the Pacific, I missed my half-hour hop from LA to San Diego because—you guessed it—the speed at which we moved through domestic security would have put a tortoise to sleep.
Steeling myself for a long wait in some bureaucratic maze, toting my iPad, breakfast bars, and coffee mug, I headed for the TSA office in San Diego, prepared to spend the day. Instead, I walked into an empty office, was shown into the interview room, chatted with the friendly woman there, showed my ID, gave my fingerprints, and was on my way in … oh, 15 minutes or so!
But there’s more! Before I left, I was given instructions for tracking the progress of my application via the Internet. A few days later, I logged on to see how thing were going, only to discover I’d been given a number already—unexpectedly in plenty of time to get “pre-checked” on a trip to the east coast.
Sometimes government actually works. If you travel much, pre-check is $85 well spent.