My First TSA Pre-Check Experience

I had almost forgotten how easy it used to be to get through security. Before 9/11, we took for granted how easy it was. Sure, you might have the occasional line.  But, no removing your liquids, laptops, belts, shoes, and spleens as you went through security.

And, for those that don’t like the new full body scanners (nude-a-scopes, as some like to refer to them, today’s experience was just the old-fashioned metal detectors. I’m not one of those guys that has a huge problem with the new scanners. There are some reports that they can be more vulnerable than the metal detectors, but they don’t really bother me.

However, there’s a rhythm I’ve established for getting through security.  While I have that routine down pat, it really is a chore.   I take my belt off before I even get into line, and I generally leave all my other “pocket stuff” (wallet, money, etc) in my bag until after I get to security.

TSA Pre-Check changes all that.

Liquids stay in your bag, along with your laptop.

Shoes stay on.

Sweaters/suit jackets too.

You don’t need to remove your belt unless it’s obviously going to set off the metal detectors.  You might be surprised to know most belts don’t set off the metal detectors.

You can leave jewelry and watch on as well.

There was no line in Pre-Check this morning, which is another plus. Nothing frustrates me more than a person in front of me that doesn’t know all the rules. They seem to gravitate to the elite security lines.

I’ve been a member of the Clear program for a long time.  I signed up in DC even before they had the program active at the local airports. But the announced benefits (keep your shoes on and your laptop in your bag) never materialized. And now that the TSA is offering these benefits themselves, I think this marks the end of a prosperous business for Clear.  They might survive in some form or fashion, but it’s unlikely they’ll see widespread success if the TSA continues the roll-out of Pre-Check.

I’m really pleased with how well TSA has implemented this on a limited basis so far.  I’ve heard of some people getting denied access even when eligible, so there probably are still some kinks to be worked out.  But, overall, this was a dramatic improvement to my security experience.

There’s info on the TSA website about how to become a part of the program.  If you’re an elite member of one of the legacy airlines, like American, United or Delta, you may pre-qualify.  Here’s a list of airports currently participating:

  • Atlanta (ATL): T-South Checkpoint (Delta only)
  • Chicago (ORD): Terminal 3, Checkpoint 8 (American only)
  • Dallas (DFW): Terminal C, Checkpoint C30 (American only)
  • Detroit (DTW): Checkpoint 2 on the ticketing level (Delta only)
  • John F. Kennedy (JFK): Terminal 8 Main Checkpoint (American only)
  • Las Vegas (LAS): D Gates First Class Checkpoint (American and Delta)
  • Los Angeles (LAX): TSA Pre✓™ screening lane (American only)
  • Miami (MIA): D2 Checkpoint (American only)
  • Minneapolis (MSP): Lindbergh Terminal, Checkpoint 4 (American and Delta)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC): Terminal 2 Checkpoint (Delta only)
  • Washington D.C. (DCA): Terminal B, South Checkpoint for gates 10-22 (Delta and Active Duty U.S. Military only)

More importantly, a significant list of airports are planned for 2012:

  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
  • Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL)
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
  • Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
  • Portland International Airport (PDX)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA)
  • Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

About the Author

My goal in life is to fill my family’s passports with stamps, creating buckets of memories along the way. You’ll find me writing about realistic ways for normal people to travel the world, whether you’re on a budget or enjoy luxury. I also enjoy taking us on the occasional detour to explore the inner workings of the travel industry.

Author Archive Page


  1. I am longingly awaiting the role out as part of the US/Canada border security announcement last fall was that Canadian Nexus holders would be eligible for ‘risk based screening’ once it was out of the testing phase. We already have dedicated Nexus security lines at all major Canadian airports and it is a huge time saver.

Leave a Reply