Jumping the Line – Secret Agent Style
January 6, 2016
Imagine you’re in the security line at the airport. Imagine that the line snakes around barriers 22 times and ends up in the hallway outside a Dunkin Donuts in the main terminal building. Lastly, imagine that you are the schlub who just got into the line 90 minutes before your flight (75 minutes before boarding), and a conservative time estimate on the security line’s length is 71 minutes.
What do you do? You become an Andrew Davis secret agent!
If you’re a seasoned traveler, you’ve already thought about this and purchased either Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check service. These products allow you to bypass the regular security line at most airports and they minimize the TSA disruption you experience. I’m not sure what they cost – look at the links provided above – but it’s definitely worth it if you are a worrisome flyer.
In fact, as recently as three years ago I was flying so many times per year that I had to get a prescription for flight anxiety. I was keynoting, guest speaking, and covering conferences all over the world and I was a sliver away from purchasing the fast lane pass through security. The main reason I didn’t was karma and luck.
I usually travel alone which means I get a little more attention from security personnel. This additional attention worked in my favor for years (and would still if things hadn’t changed*). You see, when the TSA focuses on you, they do so to eliminate you as a threat. Once they do that, and notice you’re alone and have very few bags, they actually swung the other way and allowed me to be a discretionary Pre-Check passenger.
I was welcomed through the Pre-Check line on all but a couple flights in a three-year span and that kept me from buying the service. The *CHANGE I mention above was the elimination recently of the discretionary Pre-Check move. Now, TSA is not allowed to decide that ‘normal’ flyers get to go in the fast lane. You either have the Pre-Check service or you are cattle.
Returning to the story, in this 71-minute line I was cattle and I had to use my Andrew Davis Secret Agent powers to get out of line and into the gate area. What did I do?
1 – I looked around at Pre-Check. Nope. Not gonna get through there.
2 – I looked at my current line. Still 68 minutes in length. Not working for me.
3 – I looked at the lane next to us. It was First Class. But for JetBlue, their first class ticket is called Even More Speed and it costs $10, not $500 as other airlines might charge to upgrade your experience. Check please!
I jumped on my iPhone and brought up the JetBlue app. Rechecked in and purchased Even More Speed. Then went under the ropes into the First Class line. In four minutes or so I was through security and buying a tasty bagel at one of the fine concessionaires near my gate.
Bing, bang, boom. Be a secret agent next time you fly and you’ll fly happier.
What are your best tips for being happy when you fly?