Posts Tagged ‘TSA’

If you’re not traveling by air this holiday season, or ever, this post is not for you.

But if you do find yourself squashing all your earthly belongings into one tiny carry-on, that you have to gate check anyway, all the while wondering if it’s worth it; standing behind a passenger in the security lane who “forgot” to pack her liquids separately; waiting while a person goes through the metal detector yet another time until he finds that nickel in his pocket. Line after line of ¬†irate elders and squabbling children, like a Disneyland line to the outer limits of your sanity. Fear not. The airline industry is offering its fine, upstanding citizens a way around this mess.

It’s called Global Entry along with its caveat TSA Pre-Check!¬†http://petergreenberg.com/2013/08/20/global-entry-vs-tsa-pre-check-which-is-worth-it/

Here’s the deal. If you manage to apply for this program online, which amounts to a criminal background check, you will be called in to your nearest international airport for a mini-inquisition with a TSA/Police?Immigration and Border Control-type guy. This week Bob and I made the cut. We drove two hours to Dulles and waited around a corridor along with other people awaiting their future – wary travelers like us mixed in with some who may or may not be allowed to enter the US. Tension was running high, then they called my name – Bob said he’d see me later.

The young man in uniform asked me to take a seat and look into the camera. There was no, “How was your drive?” “Nice day today isn’t it” I tried to smile at the round lens while handing him my passport and driver’s license. He got right to the point,

“Did you ever use a different last name?” I was ready for this, “Yes,” I replied, “I was married before for 4 years in 1969 and had a different last name.” I had to place my fingertips on a digital pad because I was being fingerprinted. “Not like the old days,” I said, then instantly regretted. “You know I had to be fingerprinted with ink back in the day…when I was teaching…” I was already starting to blush, feeling guilty for no reason.

“What’s this name?” he said, rather adamantly, ignoring my whole soliloquy. He was pointing out my maiden name, the one I was born with. Curses, I forgot about that one. And then, looking down at his computer, the ballistic questioning began:

“Have you ever been charged with a crime?” “No” Have you ever been arrested?” “No” But isn’t that the same thing I wondered.

“Have you ever had a DUI?” “NO”

“Ever got a speeding ticket?” “No” Finally he looks up, right into my eyes and says “Are you sure, you never got a speeding ticket?” Now I’m not so sure, have I? I must have gotten a speeding ticket at some time. “Well maybe I might have gotten a speeding ticket a long time ago, a very long time ago…”

I’m beginning to understand why people confess to crimes they never committed. As Bob and I were walking out of the airport I apologized for spoiling our chances at seamlessly going through security lines in the future. There will be no fancy fast lane for us; never having to take off our shoes, keeping our coats and scarves on forever more. Oh no, we were destined to line up like chattel. I was sure I’d flunked my test, ruined our chances at Global Entry.

Bob waiting/napping @ Dulles Airport

Bob waiting/napping @ Dulles Airport

Then Bob called me and said we’re in. Guess I’m not such a criminal after all?

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