A recent column about obtaining a five-year TSA PreCheck airport security clearance for $85 brought reactions from folks who said there was more to the story than their favorite columnist had reported.
Bob: I enjoyed your column (as usual).
You might want to let your readers know about another option offered by Homeland Security for those who travel outside of the U.S. For another $15 (total of $100), you can go for the Global Entry (GOES) program.
GOES provides the same access to the fast lanes as PreCheck, but if you ever travel outside the U.S., it makes going through customs an absolute breeze. You go to special lanes and bypass all of the long lines (customs lines are usually much longer than normal airport screening and there is more than one that returning travelers are forced to get through).
You stop at a small information kiosk, answer a few short questions and thatís it. Every time Iíve used GOES itís shaved at least an hour from the normal customs headache and really helps when youíve got a tight connection.
Bob: My husband and I flew out of CAK (Akron-Canton Airport) a couple of weeks ago. We had the PreCheck status on our boarding passes, just by luck (most airlines randomly assign that designation to a percentage of qualified customers on every flight).
Well, let me tell you: I breezed through the checkpoint, but my husband, who has a knee replacement, wasnít so lucky. He told them before walking through the detector about his knee. When the alarm went off, he still had to take off his belt and shoes and got patted down and they ran the wand all around him.
The same thing happened on our return in the San Juan, Puerto Rico, airport, where the TSA agent got an attitude with my husband because his knee set off their alarm!
So much for a quicker trip through security. We are glad we didnít purchase the PreCheck.
Bob: The Cleveland PreCheck line ó the one at Concourse B ó is typically much longer than five minutes, depending on time of day. (The TSA claims 96 percent of its PreCheck customers wait five minutes or less.)
The other thing that I would advise travelers about is that, at some airports, the PreCheck line uses old-style metal detectors rather than the newer microwave body scans. If you have metal body parts (like my hip joint), you need to tell the TSA officers. If you set off the metal detector, you will be subject to the complete pat down and luggage search. And the shoes come off. And you get groped wherever TSA feels like it.
So tell them you want to go thru the body scanner. They will reroute you and things will go smoother.
Because the first event was a smash hit ó officials were expecting about 250 applicants and got 925 ó the Akron-Canton Airport is staging another special five-day, in-person TSA PreCheck open house.
This one will run April 17-21. (The internet link to register hasnít been set up yet; weíll let you know when it is.)
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31.