NYT Journalist: People Are Waiting In Long TSA PreCheck Lines As A Status Symbol

Nikole Hannah-Jones, who was responsible for the controversial New York Times’ “1619 Project” which argues that the real founding of the United States happened when the first slave arrived in Virginia in 1619 and not in 1776, tweeted Monday about inequality at the airport.

The Pulitzer Prize winner, who argued when Russia invaded Ukraine that Europe isn’t a continent and much of the reaction was racist dog whistle, found herself at the Martha’s Vineyard airport reporting that people there were so status-obsessed that they wouldn’t use the regular security line and were willing to wait in a longer PreCheck line.

Her message is that people who summer on Martha’s Vineyard are willing to wait to have their status recognized by TSA security screeners.

The oddness of complaining about inequality from inside the Martha’s Vineyard airport aside, what struck me about this is that I did not think Martha’s Vineyard airport even had PreCheck?

When I visited Martha’s Vineyard last month I took the ferry in both directions and I didn’t visit the airport. Perhaps I need to update my priors? But if there’s PreCheck at this airport with just a couple of gates I can’t find reference to it.

So I’m confused. Perhaps someone that’s been to Martha’s Vineyard Airport more recently than I have can enlighten me? At most they have a line for PreCheck that leads to the same regular security lane, meant to give line priority to those with PreCheck? (That would undermine her argument since using that line would still get someone screened first.)

Update: this appears to be the setup – a separate priority line for PreCheck passengers, leading up to the single security lane (a single TSA employee checks IDs for both lines, and both lines filter to the same single screening line). It used to be that the airport had just a single line for everyone, but now has a separate line for those with PreCheck to give them faster access. It is possible that the ID checker might not give those in the PreCheck lane priority, but that’s the reason for the offering the separate line.

I’m also not sure what a ‘packed’ screening line would like like at an airport with a couple dozen flights a day, including Cape Air Cessnas and Tradewinds flights to Teterboro, and where the largest aircraft is still a regional jet.

In any case I have seen times where PreCheck lines were longer than regular ones (not often, but I have seen it). And I’ve seen where first class check-in had a longer line than regular economy check-in. I’d absolutely wait in a slightly longer PreCheck line because

  1. each person in the regular line takes longer to process through the checkpoint.

  2. I’d avoid having to take out my liquids and laptop and take off my shoes.

That just makes sense, though the second reason doesn’t apply where there’s a blended line. The point is that TSA PreCheck is faster and easier than regular security even when the regular line is a bit longer, and if there’s social commentary to offer it’s about the shoe carnival that most passengers are forced to go through – while what’s “bougie” is complaining about inequality while flying in and out of Martha’s Vineyard airport to begin with.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would pay Olaf U. Fokker-Sergei, platy, GUWonder, or any of their like, any attention at all….

    They are hateful, racist trolls of the highest order and not fit to share this planet with the sane people among us. Just ignore those bitter losers and they will go away. Without the validation the feel from starting fights on interwebs (‘cuz no doubt they’d get their a$$eS handed to them in a REAL fight), they may just decide to end it all by washing down a bottle of sleeping pills with a gallon of bleach and THEN the World would be a better place, indeed.

  2. Amazing Larry and his fellow Lord Trump worshippers keep dreaming your cream, but your dream doesn’t make America greater again.

  3. Señor Leff,

    I agree with Hayden’s assessment on this matter of the Trump Party being an extremist danger to the country.

    As you probably can recall, I wasn’t a fan of Bush-Cheney’s foreign policy adventures (nor even some of their key domestic agenda items), but they and their Republican Party were not an extremist danger to the country in the way this Trump Party is. Liz Cheney paid a price for being more loyal to country than to a racist cult of personality.

  4. @ Gennady says:

    ” and many well-respected historians pointed to a number of mistakes in the scandalous and embarassing 1619 Project”

    Dig a little deeper, Gennady, for example:


    And quote from the critics (presumably the ones you are citing):

    “We applaud all efforts to address the foundational centrality of slavery and racism to our history,”

    Read more here (whilst noting that many “experts” were asked to sign the group letter, but refused):



  5. @ C_M

    “NHJ is not above criticism by virtue of her skin-color. It’s her ideas that are repulsive.”

    I absolutely agree with you that the focus should be on the ideas and not the skin colour.

    But Gary’s article attacks the person, not that person’s ideas.

    And that attack is fuelled by the context of the subject being black, advocating a certain position relating to slavery / black history and its role in the American historical narrative, making a Twitter comment (presumably meant to be humorous given the three laugh/cry emojis) about the irony of self segregation in status driven folk.

    I doubt that Gary (or any commentator here) has anything to add to the debate about the 1619 Project – there appears to be sufficiently extensive coverage elsewhere ably documenting a whole range of responses and suggesting the strengths and weaknesses of the published content.

    To that extent, the project has been extremely successful in stimulating debate about how American views its historical narrative in terms of slavery, regardless of your own emotional reactions to the ideas you personally perceive to be in play.

    Now there are other more interesting matters at hand – Qatar premium award space seems to have disappeared from AA and AS reward booking websites and one must wonder the political trajectory of Liz Cheney…be well….

  6. @ Amazing Larry

    “They are hateful, racist trolls…they may just decide to end it all by washing down a bottle of sleeping pills with a gallon of bleach and THEN the World would be a better place, indeed”

    Oh, Larry! How amazing, I never knew you cared so much!

    Your own hatred is inspirational, mate, advocating that the people you disagree with should commit suicide is pure genius!

    Remember to drink the bleach to protect yourself from that nasty China virus and you don’t need to take those sleeping pill since you are already in a state of constant somnambulism.

    And thanks for entirely proving my suspicion that @ Gary’s article was designed to incite racism and hatred.


    “If people believe in the view of Platy and others espouse, so be it.”

    But, Hadley, darling, the last thing I want is for anybody to “believe” in any of my “views”.

    So sorry, sweetie, but I’d much prefer that Gary encouraged evidence-based rational approaches than dog whistled racism in his readers – then we can all agree to agree or disagree based on evidence and power of argument rather than hatred and prejudice.

    A very nasty “view”, I know, for some herein to disbelieve in.

  8. @ C_M

    “If my dog wrote like @platy, I’d shave his butt and teach him to type backwards”

    Geez, mate, if that’s what you’d do to your dog, I do hope your partner satisfies your literary standards…!

    What happens in the Madhatter’s house stays in the Madhatter’s house, right, bro?

    Now “stop the sketch….it’s getting silly” (Spike Milligan).

  9. @ Jill

    “Didn’t realized there was pre check in1776”

    Pre-check started in 1619, coinciding with the true birth of the modern nation!

  10. TSA’s haraSSSSment screening at US airports was often a show of how”not all free US persons are equal in the eyes of the US” , as the vast majority of people selected were closer to the “young, male and mucho melanin” side than to the Senor Leff side of the public. The next generation of “some are more equal than others” at US airport security lines is via PreCheck, and then there is the one-up on that with being Clear+PreCheck.

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