Leave Your Shoes On, Please: Pre-Screening at Airport Security

That dreadful TSA guy at the airport security checkpoint, always making you remove this, take off that, even though you just told him there’s nothing in your pockets!! Frustration, fury, STRESS…all of these overwhelmingly unpleasant emotions and just a few steps from your dream vacation? Sounds like a nightmare that’s becoming all too familiar for travelers, especially frequent ones. The airport frenzy is about to get a little more mellow.

That’s why a pilot program allowing eligible flyers to forgo the chaos is expanding to more than 25 major U.S. airports, including Honolulu International Airport. It came about after numerous complaints that blamed the government for not using common sense in the airport screening shenanigans.

Now, there’s a pre-screening process, which means the traveler could voluntarily provide more personal information for the government to use when conducting a security investigation. If all goes well, the traveler may present a specially-marked boarding pass to the TSA and proceed to go through a dedicated lane at the security checkpoint. No more taking off shoes, jackets, belts or taking out laptops.

What kind of information must be provided? That’s stuff the government isn’t telling – for obvious reasons. It provides a “blueprint,” as the TSA spokesperson put it, of what they’re doing to provide security. One analyst made a valid point though: It’s a bad idea to let the government probe into your life like that. Don’t give them more than they already have. But if it gives you that same thrill as the “Fast Pass” does in Disneyland (whizzing to the front of the multiple hours worth of weaving lines), then I would heavily consider. It may not save that much time compared to the theme park passes, but add that up for the thousands of passengers flying every day, and that’s worth the stress-free ride.

So far, airports in Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Minneapolis have been testing the program. The eligible travelers include those already a part of the Delta and American airlines frequent flyer program. Once the pre-screening process comes to Honolulu, Hawaiian Airlines will offer the “opt-in” option.

PRE-SCREENING • Travelers who qualify for program don’t need to remove shoes, jackets, belts or laptops at security checkpoint • www.tsa.gov, for more information

Posted by: Bruce Fisher