I had already taken off my jacket and placed it in the plastic tub for the x-ray machine at the airport when the TSA agent told me I could leave it on. Ok, weird, I always thought I had to take that off, but whatever. Then I started to take off my belt and my shoes and the TSA agent told me that no, I could leave those on, too. All I needed to do was put my suitcase and backpack on the conveyor belt.
“I don’t have to take my laptop out to be scanned separately?” I asked her.
“No, this is pre-check. Just put your bags through the x-ray machine and walk through the metal detector,” as if I was the person acting totally cuckoo here. I wanted to say, “Don’t you want to scan my liquids separately? Don’t you want to check my shoes for explosives? Don’t you want to take naked pictures of me with your backscatter machine?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?! ” But I did not say these things. Instead, I gleefully sent my bags through the machine and then walked through the metal detector and that was that. It was a crazy, beautiful post-Christmas miracle.
As I waited for my flight to depart, I went online and discovered I’d been filtered into one of the new pre-check security lines at approximately 35 airports in the US. I did vaguely recall Delta asking me to check a box authorizing them to share information with the TSA when I’d booked my flight. And I had wondered why the TSA agent who checked my ID also scanned my ticket, something I’d never seen them do before. There was also an agent standing next to the person checking IDs who was asking people in line random personal questions like, “Who were you visiting?” or “Are you in a rush to get home?” which in retrospect was probably a behavior screening technique called SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques).
Regardless of what it was, it was TOTALLY AWESOME. It is ridiculous how joyful I was not to be treated like a criminal on my way to my departure gate. I was still buzzing on happy at least 30 minutes later. It was especially nice because in the security line before my flight a few days earlier I had remembered to take off my belt, my jacket, and my coat, to empty my pockets, and to pull out my liquids and laptop for individual scanning, but as I walked toward the nudie-picture machine the TSA agent had to remind me to take off my shoes. D’oh! I’d felt like such an amateur. And this time it didn’t even matter.
I hope this pre-check program gets rolled out everywhere and that I always, always, always qualify for it. It’s kind of sad that I live in a world where not being examined like a bug in a dish before a flight is considered a luxury, but I’ll take my luxuries where I can get them.