On a recent trip I was randomly selected to use the TSA Precheck lane at the airport and it was WONDERFUL. I didn’t have to take off my shoes, or remove my laptop or liquids from my carry-on. But best of all there was no full body pat down of my fat.
Thankfully, I had already initiated my application to get a known traveler number so I will be able to use the Precheck lane for all my future travel. This specific airport I only had to go through the metal detector, I am not sure how the Precheck lanes are at other airports but my hope is Precheck will reduce the need for full body pat downs. I know I am not the only passenger of size who has been submitted to some overly intimate searches of my person, due to fat or excess skin.
“Ma’am I’m going to have to pat down your thighs.”
I once thought the worse part of flying was having to take my shoes off, then TSA began using the new body scanners and I was subjected to a full body pat down every time I passed through security. For some reason these high power technically advanced security scanners think my fat is a possible threat to our national security? I actually do have more than 3 ounces of fluid in my legs, but it poses no elevated risk to anyone but me, as flying causes my legs to swell.
The pat down (more like quick strokes of the hands, but it is still touching) requires me to spread my legs enough so they can pat each thigh individually, front and back. They pat down both calves, and both arms. Occasionally, they pat down my chest. I come to expect it, and I step out of the scanner ready to comply. After all, the TSA agents are just doing their jobs. They have always been polite to me. I usually state that I have a medical condition that causes excess fluid in my limbs which is why the scanner alerted them to the areas, and on most occasions the agent has asked if her touching me hurts. It does not. Nor does it trigger any emotional effects. However, I completely understand that for many people such a search and pat down can create both physical and emotional pain.
So here is the chance to possibly reduce TSA pat downs, “possibly” because at any time a passenger can be subjected to additional screening by TSA. Also, as I mentioned I have so far only used the Precheck lane at one airport so I can not state with certainty that all use metal detectors verses body scanners. But I believe for now using the Precheck lane is the best hope we have to avoid a full body pat down of our fat and excess skin.
How can I access the TSA Precheck lane?
There are several ways to access TSA Precheck: randomly, via airline frequent flyer program, or having a known traveler number (KTN). The only way to guarantee use of the lane everytime you travel is having a known traveler number (KTN). In order to receive a KTN you must complete the application process for one of the Trusted Traveler Programs.
I applied for Global Entry ($100 fee) because I have a passport and hope to fly internationally more in the future. If you do not have a passport and only fly within the US you can apply for the TSA Precheck ($85 fee). All Trusted Traveler Program memberships last five years.
I applied online for Global Entry in January. I had to provide typical background information, my citizenship information (Passport Number), and pay the $100 fee. Within 24 hours I received notification that I was approved for the program and that I needed to schedule an in person interview within 30 days. I had 30 days to schedule the interview, the actual dates available for interviews at my nearest Global Entry location were in April.
I had the interview a couple weeks ago. I simply had to show up at my scheduled time with my approval letter and passport. I was asked to confirm some questions from my online application, and asked a few additional question. My photo and fingerprints were taken. The interview took 15 minutes. Now all I have to do is make sure my KTN is listed on my airline reservations and I will be able to use the Precheck lane at the airport security check point for all my future travels.
I realize for some the fee and background check might not seem worth it to use a “fast lane”, but I also know for many of us who endure the full body pat downs, it is more than worth it, not to mention no longer having to take off our shoes!