Airport Confessions


Travelers at Denver International Airport line up before a TSA checkpoint. Despite heavy volume due to Thanksgiving week travel and concerns over TSA security measures there were few delays.

Travelers at Denver International Airport line up before a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) checkpoint during the holidays–worst time to travel, hands down.

First of all, you should know, I’m not going to regale you with tales from the mile-high club so, if that’s what you were expecting in my airport confessions, you might as well take your mind out of the gutter right this second.

This is about my recent experience traveling and why I am questioning whether I can ever, ever travel again.

Okay, okay. Maybe that’s a bit too dramatic but once I share with you my travails at the airport, you’ll understand.

Last month I took took a trip, one that required getting on an airplane. And in order to get on the airplane, I had to first go to the airport because that’s where you find them. Airplanes, I mean.

So anyway, there I was, going through the rigamarole process of getting to my gate, when something absolutely horrible happened.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn’t get assigned to the TSA Pre✓ security line! Aack! Talk about miserable luck!

Now, before you scoff and say, “Monica, what’s the big deal? It’s not as if you ever officially applied to be in the TSA Pre✓ line,” let me say that most of the time when I travel by air, I do get assigned to the TSA Pre✓ line, and I have to tell you: I love that line!

It’s like winning the lottery and getting the Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory all at once. I mean, have you ever been on the TSA Pre✓ line? It’s the equivalent of being pampered at the spa. You don’t have to take your shoes off. Or your jacket or sweater, for that matter. Nor do you have to pull out your plastic bag filled with toiletries in order to prove to the guards you’re not carrying any liquid more than three ounces. You even get to keep your belt on! Does it get any better than that?

Plus, the guards that work on the TSA Pre✓ line are nicer. It’s like they hired comedians straight from summer stock. They joke around making wise cracks. They’re jovial, good-natured and wave you through the line with a smile. It makes me want to applaud–and I do! For I had no idea TSA security even knew how to smile. Frankly, either I’m too thrilled to be on that line or their jokes are downright funny. I never laughed so hard!

Going through the TSA Pre✓ line puts a song on your lips and can lift your spirits like nobody’s business. I swear one of those security guys looked like he was going to give my shoulders a mini-massage. As I breezed through the screening, I wanted to hug each and every TSA agent and invite them all to my house for Thanksgiving, overcome as I was with the feeling of camaraderie and goodwill to all humankind. I mean why can’t all security checkpoints be like that?

But no. Not this time. As soon as I arrived at the airport and pulled out my boarding pass, I noticed f that there was no “TSA Pre✓” stamped on my pass. I panicked.

There must be some mistake, I said to the airline representative at the check-in counter. After all, I ALWAYS get TSA Pre✓!

“It’s not a mistake,” she matter-of-factly replied. “It’s random selection. You didn’t get it this time.”

Devastated, I join the end of the line reserved for, well, the riff-raff. It snakes around about 15 times or so. I’m sure if we’d straightened out the line, we could’ve extended from Chicago to New York. And back.

Here, in steerage, we’re treated like sheep and forced to remove just about everything. We walk through the ex-rays with arms extended in the air, and no funny business–please! That means no talking and forget about joking or laughing.

Nobody’s a happy camper in this line, especially when you can look clear across the hall and see the short TSA Pre✓ line, and just how darn happy those folks are. As I bleakly make my way through my line, feeling pea-green with envy, I can’t help but think,

I want my TSA Pre✓ line back!

Incidentally, if you’re thinking I should go to the trouble of applying to become a permanent, card-carrying TSA Pre✓, forget about it. Too much paperwork, too costly and too much effort. Frankly, I don’t have the patience. But if you yourself are interested, click here.

In any case, now we know that no matter what line you’re in, the TSA isn’t doing a darn thing to make you any safer. Not when they miss weapons and other instruments of mass destruction 95% of the time. If you ask me, that’s 95% too many!

So, are you TSA Pre✓worthy or do you have to slouch around with the rest of us? Do tell!

19 thoughts on “Airport Confessions

  1. It is indeed good fortune to win that pre-approval stamp. Like a lottery, as you say. I don’t travel as much as I used to and have not applied for the permanent pass. I think it may be worthwhile even for a casual traveler, however, since those TSA lines are generally pretty deflating.

    But for me, the real story is how grim the entire airport and airplane experience is on most days. The planes are dirty and crowded. Passengers wear their backyard outfits or pajamas. The airlines charge us every step of the way. The gap between the municipal bus service and airlines gets slimmer and slimmer. Air travel is a little exhausting.

    • You’re right. Flying used to have a style all its own, where the customer was treated with respect, and no one was nickeled and dimed. I remember dressing up for our flights, and being served full meals with real silverware. Sigh. Those days are long gone.

  2. Welcome to the rest of the world! Can’t be that bad; after all, it gave you an experience worth writing about! This is why I budget so much time when traveling – anything can happen, including having to be in that God-forsaken long line.

    Good Morning! (Catching up)

  3. I became very excited when I saw this post Monica. I’m all traveled out in general, Although I travel a lot. It has become more of an inconvenience than anything else. It takes away the pure joy of going somewhere, seeing some place new or visiting my mum all the way on the other side of the world, where there is no removing of shoes, no jackets that come off and definitely no grumpy, unsmiling TSA agents.

    However, I had one single experience last month, where I felt like I was in a different part of the world. A little bit like you feel when you are selected to be in the “nice” line with the humorous and happy people. When my daughter’s grade was flying to Astronomy camp in LA , I was a chaperone and we were in that special line – oh my wasn’t it marvelous. I felt like I was upgraded to first class. I smiled, I even wanted to practice my royal wave. That is how happy I was with the short line, for if not, I’m alway in that other line, removing shoes, jacket and taking out my liquids.

    • That special line is a joy, MM. But the fact of the matter is, when I was younger I loved to fly and would jump at the chance. But over time, and perhaps because of all the challenges of flying and the confining seats and space on the airplanes, I’ve lost the excitement of it. I’ve done my share of flying and now I’m happiest staying put. Ah, bliss.

  4. This is why I don’t fly. That and the thought of being crammed into a sardine can at 35,000 feet is beyond nightmarish. Last I flew was in 1996. Because it was for business it was on someone else’s dime and I got to fly first class. Still daunting, but nothing like the crap you have to go through today.

    • How amazing, Jayne, that you’ve avoided travel post-9/11. The changes are significant, trust me. Lucky for me, though, I remember the old days when travel was elegant and fun. There’s one thing, though, that I think is an improvement and that’s the fact that the airlines no longer allow smoking on the plane. Thank goodness. 🙂

  5. Interesting experience Monica. One I have never had, I have never ever flown anywhere.

    The only thing the flies around here is time, and that’s getting faster as I get older.

    Organisations seem to be getting more and more paranoid about security, and the more paranoid they get the more likely they are to miss something. As I read once the more you look for the little things the more chance you have of missing the big things.

    • It’s amazing to me that you have flown anywhere and can’t relate. How lucky can you get? I used to love traveling. Boarding a plane was second nature, something I did all the time. Nowadays, not so much. Those lines make it difficult. Add to that the way they treat you, no longer needing to impress the customer. We’re steerage to the airlines. Sigh.

  6. The last time I flew was when Domer and I went to Ireland, and trust me, I never even SAW a TSA Pre✓ line!! Nope, all of us were baa-ing to beat the band, ha!

    Sorry your eyes were so rudely opened, Monica, but now you know. And with kids not living at home, you’ll have to keep flying, so pray “Random selection” goes your way the next time!

  7. TSA Pre✓worthy? If I need to ask about this, you know I’ve been with the sheep every. single. time.
    What does one do to be in the “NICE” line?


    • Well, you can do it one of two ways, Kim. You can actually fill out a lengthy application and have a background check done on you, and then go in for an in-person interview and wait to get approved OR

      You can do what I did and count on the randomness of life to keep picking you until they don’t. The first time I got on the TSA Pre✓line I looked around the line to see what we all had in common, those of us in said line, and we were all on the, ahem, older side. It was amazing. We didn’t have to take off our jackets and whatnot. The guards were so easy going and showing another side I’d never seen before. It was easy peasy! So you can only imagine my dismay when I was relegated to stand with the masses. Not a pretty sight.

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