If you’re wondering whether you should spend the $85.00 on TSA Pre-Check, you’ve come to the right place. Here are four questions to help you decide whether TSA Pre-Check is right for you:
(#1) How often do you travel? The Transportation Security Administration recommends Pre-Check if you travel more than three times a year. However, The Blue Juice disagrees with this over-simplified assessment. Three trips is a great starting point, but where you are traveling to (or from) is almost as important as frequency. For example, are you flying in and out of major airport hubs? (i.e. Dallas Fort Worth, Miami, Dulles, etc.) If you are, then TSA Pre-Check is probably worth it if you are a frequent flyer. On the other hand, if your round-trips are from Albuquerque to another small airport like Colorado Springs, you’re free to take a pass. In general, smaller airports don’t have the long TSA lines—so use the $85.00 to buy two drinks in the airport bar instead.
(2) Do you have a history of agoraphobia? If you do, security check points may cause you more anxiety than it does the average person. And who could blame you? You’re forced into an extremely crowded area while trying to separate your 3oz liquids, remove your laptop, take off your shoes, belt, and other accessories—all under the watchful gaze of judgmental travelers who (no matter how quick you are) will feel you’re moving too slow. In your case, the $85.00 will be money well spent; it is, after all, cheaper than one hour with your therapist.
(3) Do you fly internationally two or three times a year? If you answered yes, your best bet is to bypass TSA Pre-Check and opt for Global Entry. It will cost $15.00 more but will provide you with an expedited customs experience when you return to the U.S. and will include TSA Pre-Check benefits as well.
(4) Do you travel alone or with friends and family? In other words, will the people you travel with have TSA Pre-Check? If you answered no to that last question, The Blue Juice offers this warning: there is nothing more awkward than parting ways in the middle of a conversation with your spouse so you can get through the security checkpoint faster than them. It’s akin to flying first class while they’re back in coach next to the lavatory. So be prepared to forfeit your TSA Pre-Check status when the social situation calls for it.
Hopefully you now have a better understanding as to whether or not you should opt to enroll in the TSA Pre-Check program. But before you click away, a final statement: not long ago, there were two great equalizers when it came to human experience—death, and airport security lines. No matter where you came from, rich or poor, we had to endure these same grueling trials, and there is something beautiful about that. But as we transition into an airport security caste system where more affluent passengers can bypass long lines, we are, in effect, attempting to erase our commonality. And it’s not just TSA Pre-Check—many airlines and airports offer a separate security line for first class passengers as well. That is unfortunate. Safety, and the processes taken to ensure it, should not be an occasion to separate the “have’s” from the “have not’s.” We have plenty of opportunities to do that outside the airport. For this reason alone, this author opted not to enroll in TSA Pre-Check. Besides, this is precisely what God made Xanax for. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to toss one of those back with my 3oz travel bottle of Jack Daniels, all while removing my shoes.