Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > Travel Safety/Security > Checkpoints and Borders Policy Debate
Reload this Page >

My first PreCheck experience - a positive one

My first PreCheck experience - a positive one

Old Sep 28, 2023, 3:53 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Programs: Southwest Rapid Rewards. Tha... that's about it.
Posts: 4,317
My first PreCheck experience - a positive one

I resisted getting PreCheck for years, partly because I don't like (on principal) the idea of handing over more and more personal data to the gubment, and partly because I'm cheap and didn't like the idea of paying for an easier screening experience that I believe should be the standard for everyone.

However, as we emerged from the pandemic early in 2023, I re-evaluated those reasons, and neither of them was terribly compelling any more. Firstly, the gubment has all that info about me already, from various background checks conducted at the state and local level for work projects and required IDs. Secondly, the cost is low enough - $85 for five years - to be less onerous. I still think PreCheck style screening should be the standard, but since it's not, practicality has overridden my principals to the point where I'm willing to lay out the cash to get that better screening experience.

So I did. A few months ago I paid my $85, got my fingerprints and photo taken, and got the magic number to enter on my air reservations.

And since I, unlike most FTers, am not a frequent flyer, it wasn't until this week that I actually used it. And ho boy, what a different experience it was! I've read about it, I've even observed it from a distance on previous flights while going through the regular line, but the full impact didn't really hit me until I went through it myself.

My travel this week was a round-trip flight on WN from my home airport of BWI to ALB (which incidentally was an airport I've never visited before).

I left BWI on Monday, 9/25, on an 8:35am flight out of Concourse A. BWI has a dedicated Pre lane at Checkpoint B, so after printing my BPs I jumped into it at about 6:30am. Surprisingly, the airport was pretty empty that morning, and the lines at all three c/p's were pretty short. The queue in the Pre lane actually seemed longer than the standard lane, and someone next to me in line remarked on that, but the Pre lane also moves so much quicker than the standard that I found myself piling my carryon bags into the belt so quickly that it seemed like the standard lane hadn't advanced even an inch since I had gotten into the Pre queue. Despite all my reading about Pre, I was actually a little surprised that there were no gray tubs - I just threw my rolling bag and my personal item (a largish waist bag with a water bottle carrier) onto the rollers.

I waited only about thirty seconds until both bags entered the x-ray tunnel before stepping to the WTMD. Just like the pre-9/11 days, I had emptied my pockets into my carryon, including my phone holster (yes, I still rock a belt loop phone holster for my big Samsung S-22 Ultra), and had nothing in them but my ID and BP. I was through it and picking up my bags so quickly that, despite all of the knowledge I've gleaned about the Pre experience from FT, I couldn't help but think maybe I missed something. But no, I was done.

My return flight from ALB-BWI on Wednesday afternoon was similar, but with a key difference. ALB is a much smaller airport, with only a single c/p for all concourses, and they don't have a completely separate PreCheck lane. Instead, there is a separate PreCheck queue and TDC, but after the TDC checks your docs, you are given a laminated brightly colored placard with "PRECHECK" printed on it in block letters, which you hand to the TSO at the belt. You're then directed to the WTMD and told to hold on to your ID and BP, though I believe that's merely to avoid travelers holding up the line while putting those docs into their carryons. ALB's Pre and standard both go through the same screening lanes after the TDC (or at least they did when I went through, it's possible that the experience may change if the c/p gets busy), so there were standard gray tubs at the belt, and the TSO helpfully laid out two of them for my two carry on bags. With no one ahead of me, my bags went into the tunnel instantly and I stepped through the WTMD. I waited about sixty to ninety seconds for my bags to catch up to me on the far side of the scanner.

NOTE: ALB has completely transitioned to the new 3D CT carryon scanners, while BWI still has the older 2D scanners. The 3D at ALB seemed to go a bit slower than the 2D at BWI, and my two bags were identically packed on both flights. YMMV.

My standard screening experiences up until now have never been less than twenty minutes, and that's only where there is almost no line; with even a small to moderate line, the experience takes thirty minutes or more. With PreCheck, I was completely through security in under five minutes, without disrobing, without unpacking half my carryons to put LGA and electronics larger than a phone into a single layer in multiple gray tubs, without being barked at, ogled, groped, humiliated, or treated like a criminal.

On principal, I still think it's an outrage that we have to pay to get the less invasive and abusive - but still just as effective - screening experience, particularly when I know from reading FT that it's not universally available at many airports, and that one can still be randomly selected for more invasive screening for no reason. But until the country wises up and starts using some common sense in aviation security and screening, I'll take PreCheck, and I won't begrudge the $85 that was extorted from me to get it. Mostly. I mean, I begrudge it a little.
Rare, chollie and 1200GS like this.
WillCAD is offline  
Old Sep 28, 2023, 4:09 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: SFO
Programs: COdbaUA Platinum 2MM
Posts: 5,492
Originally Posted by WillCAD
I resisted getting PreCheck for years, partly because I don't like (on principal) the idea of handing over more and more personal data to the gubment, and partly because I'm cheap and didn't like the idea of paying for an easier screening experience that I believe should be the standard for everyone.

However, as we emerged from the pandemic early in 2023, I re-evaluated those reasons, and neither of them was terribly compelling any more. Firstly, the gubment has all that info about me already, from various background checks conducted at the state and local level for work projects and required IDs. Secondly, the cost is low enough - $85 for five years - to be less onerous. I still think PreCheck style screening should be the standard, but since it's not, practicality has overridden my principals to the point where I'm willing to lay out the cash to get that better screening experience.

So I did. A few months ago I paid my $85, got my fingerprints and photo taken, and got the magic number to enter on my air reservations.

And since I, unlike most FTers, am not a frequent flyer, it wasn't until this week that I actually used it. And ho boy, what a different experience it was! I've read about it, I've even observed it from a distance on previous flights while going through the regular line, but the full impact didn't really hit me until I went through it myself.

My travel this week was a round-trip flight on WN from my home airport of BWI to ALB (which incidentally was an airport I've never visited before).

I left BWI on Monday, 9/25, on an 8:35am flight out of Concourse A. BWI has a dedicated Pre lane at Checkpoint B, so after printing my BPs I jumped into it at about 6:30am. Surprisingly, the airport was pretty empty that morning, and the lines at all three c/p's were pretty short. The queue in the Pre lane actually seemed longer than the standard lane, and someone next to me in line remarked on that, but the Pre lane also moves so much quicker than the standard that I found myself piling my carryon bags into the belt so quickly that it seemed like the standard lane hadn't advanced even an inch since I had gotten into the Pre queue. Despite all my reading about Pre, I was actually a little surprised that there were no gray tubs - I just threw my rolling bag and my personal item (a largish waist bag with a water bottle carrier) onto the rollers.

I waited only about thirty seconds until both bags entered the x-ray tunnel before stepping to the WTMD. Just like the pre-9/11 days, I had emptied my pockets into my carryon, including my phone holster (yes, I still rock a belt loop phone holster for my big Samsung S-22 Ultra), and had nothing in them but my ID and BP. I was through it and picking up my bags so quickly that, despite all of the knowledge I've gleaned about the Pre experience from FT, I couldn't help but think maybe I missed something. But no, I was done.

My return flight from ALB-BWI on Wednesday afternoon was similar, but with a key difference. ALB is a much smaller airport, with only a single c/p for all concourses, and they don't have a completely separate PreCheck lane. Instead, there is a separate PreCheck queue and TDC, but after the TDC checks your docs, you are given a laminated brightly colored placard with "PRECHECK" printed on it in block letters, which you hand to the TSO at the belt. You're then directed to the WTMD and told to hold on to your ID and BP, though I believe that's merely to avoid travelers holding up the line while putting those docs into their carryons. ALB's Pre and standard both go through the same screening lanes after the TDC (or at least they did when I went through, it's possible that the experience may change if the c/p gets busy), so there were standard gray tubs at the belt, and the TSO helpfully laid out two of them for my two carry on bags. With no one ahead of me, my bags went into the tunnel instantly and I stepped through the WTMD. I waited about sixty to ninety seconds for my bags to catch up to me on the far side of the scanner.

NOTE: ALB has completely transitioned to the new 3D CT carryon scanners, while BWI still has the older 2D scanners. The 3D at ALB seemed to go a bit slower than the 2D at BWI, and my two bags were identically packed on both flights. YMMV.

My standard screening experiences up until now have never been less than twenty minutes, and that's only where there is almost no line; with even a small to moderate line, the experience takes thirty minutes or more. With PreCheck, I was completely through security in under five minutes, without disrobing, without unpacking half my carryons to put LGA and electronics larger than a phone into a single layer in multiple gray tubs, without being barked at, ogled, groped, humiliated, or treated like a criminal.

On principal, I still think it's an outrage that we have to pay to get the less invasive and abusive - but still just as effective - screening experience, particularly when I know from reading FT that it's not universally available at many airports, and that one can still be randomly selected for more invasive screening for no reason. But until the country wises up and starts using some common sense in aviation security and screening, I'll take PreCheck, and I won't begrudge the $85 that was extorted from me to get it. Mostly. I mean, I begrudge it a little.
Thank you for sharing. Do you have a credit card which reimburses you for your TSA PreCheck application fee? If you do, consider applying for Global Entry which gives you TSA PreCheck privilege for a mere additional $15. https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/
1KChinito is online now  
Old Sep 28, 2023, 7:07 pm
  #3  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: DFW
Posts: 27,873
Have an appointment tomorrow for fingerprints and what have you for PreCheck. I've resisted but finally caved.
Boggie Dog is online now  
Old Sep 28, 2023, 7:21 pm
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Programs: Southwest Rapid Rewards. Tha... that's about it.
Posts: 4,317
Originally Posted by 1KChinito
Thank you for sharing. Do you have a credit card which reimburses you for your TSA PreCheck application fee? If you do, consider applying for Global Entry which gives you TSA PreCheck privilege for a mere additional $15. https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/
Unfortunately, none of the credit cards I have reimburse the PreCheck fee, though of course anyone who has such a card should definitely take advantage of it to save themselves $85.

I don't travel internationally, so I chose PreCheck rather than GE. I felt that I simply didn't need the added benefits from GE, so even though it was only an additional $15, it wasn't worth the extra expenditure. I'll use that $15 for a few overpriced airport snacks, instead.

Originally Posted by Boggie Dog
Have an appointment tomorrow for fingerprints and what have you for PreCheck. I've resisted but finally caved.
This first experience was enough to convince me that I made the right decision, even though I know that it may not go so smoothly every time. I hope yours goes as well; I get the impression that you travel far more frequently than I do, so I hope you'll find it even more helpful than I do as an infrequent traveler.
WillCAD is offline  
Old Sep 28, 2023, 9:12 pm
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: DFW
Posts: 27,873
Originally Posted by WillCAD
Unfortunately, none of the credit cards I have reimburse the PreCheck fee, though of course anyone who has such a card should definitely take advantage of it to save themselves $85.

I don't travel internationally, so I chose PreCheck rather than GE. I felt that I simply didn't need the added benefits from GE, so even though it was only an additional $15, it wasn't worth the extra expenditure. I'll use that $15 for a few overpriced airport snacks, instead.



This first experience was enough to convince me that I made the right decision, even though I know that it may not go so smoothly every time. I hope yours goes as well; I get the impression that you travel far more frequently than I do, so I hope you'll find it even more helpful than I do as an infrequent traveler.
Back when the airlines were gifting PreCheck I experienced it on almost every flight. Then TSA screwed that up too.
Boggie Dog is online now  
Old Sep 29, 2023, 2:23 pm
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: DFW
Posts: 27,873
Fingerprints, photo taken, and application submitted by IDEMIA. Being a Friday and a likely government shutdown this weekend I hope the application doesn't get lost in the confusion that is almost certainly going to happen. Time will tell.
Boggie Dog is online now  
Old Sep 30, 2023, 3:49 pm
  #7  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: DFW
Posts: 27,873
Originally Posted by Boggie Dog
Fingerprints, photo taken, and application submitted by IDEMIA. Being a Friday and a likely government shutdown this weekend I hope the application doesn't get lost in the confusion that is almost certainly going to happen. Time will tell.
Yesterday afternoon PreCheck application was completed and submitted by IDEMIA at a nearby Staples store and received notification of approval and retrieved my KTN today, just slightly more than 24 hours later. Faster than I expected.
Boggie Dog is online now  
Old Oct 1, 2023, 7:41 am
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Programs: Southwest Rapid Rewards. Tha... that's about it.
Posts: 4,317
Originally Posted by Boggie Dog
Yesterday afternoon PreCheck application was completed and submitted by IDEMIA at a nearby Staples store and received notification of approval and retrieved my KTN today, just slightly more than 24 hours later. Faster than I expected.
I got my KTN the next day as well. With the photos and prints being electronic, I would guess the issuance process is mostly automatic, removing any backlogs due to overworked personnel.

I think you would have squeaked in just before the government shutdown anyway, but it's been averted for 45 days, so those who are currently awaiting their KTNs from recent appointments should get them.

With the possibility of a shutdown in mid-November, I'd recommend anyone who is currently in the process of joining any of the known traveler programs try to schedule their appointments before the deadline if possible.
WillCAD is offline  
Old Oct 1, 2023, 9:46 am
  #9  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: DFW
Posts: 27,873
Was anticipating 3 to 5 business days which would have been threatened by the shutdown had it happened.
Boggie Dog is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

This site is owned, operated, and maintained by MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Designated trademarks are the property of their respective owners.