I had a TSA screening experience unlike any other, not bad mind you just new and different.
I was departing Charleston, South Carolina and was happy to have discovered a few days earlier that TSA Secure Flight information transfers over well from American’s booking engine to US Airways flights. I had booked an American Airlines codeshare flying US Airways at AA.com in order to use an American voucher, and still managed to get PreCheck when flying US Airways.
I knew I had read that Charleston now had PreCheck, in one of the batches of 60 airports added in the fall. So when I approached the checkpoint at about 2pm and there was no PreCheck lane, I asked.
The travel document checker told me that
- they only open the PreCheck lane when it’s “really busy.”
- but if my boarding pass beeped I could do Expedited Screening.
I hadn’t heard of that. He explained that he would make a mark on my boarding pass.
I should hold it out so that the agents manning the checkpoint knew I was eligible to leave my jacket and shoes on, but that I’d have to take my laptop and liquids out for separate inspection (I still use a checkpoint-friendly laptop bag and don’t actually have to take it out).
So far, so good. But the screening lane fed into a nude-o-scope. I got to the front and said, “oh.” And was told, “well, if you don’t want to go through the machine just say so and we’ll put you through the metal detector’. Yes, please.
This was my first ‘opt out’ where opting out just meant choosing to use the metal detector instead.
Of course, this is also an airport where the police ride their bikes indoors.
Signage said I’d be accosted by a dog (the dogs are usually well-trained, their handlers not always) but there wasn’t actually a dog roaming the terminal.
Which reminds me of American Airlines’ Bob Crandall supposedly firing a guard dog, and playing a tape recording of a dog barking instead.