Admittedly, it’s been a minute since I’ve departed Atlanta on a Saturday morning, so I’d forgotten how busy the airport can be then. I’ve seen the lines for PreCheck get pretty long lately, and we all know why. The number of those eligible to participate has been climbing while the number of lanes dedicated to PreCheck has only gone up a tiny bit.

I arrived at the airport pretty early this morning, and the place was already abuzz. Given the crowds in the ticket lobby, I half expected a monumental line for PreCheck. Alas, there was not. The only problem was that the handful of people in the line had no clue what to do. I navigated an obstacle course of stressed out looking parents and children, huge bags, and finally made my way into the PreCheck queue only to run into my first roadblock, a mom and two kids. The kids were PreCheck eligible, mom was not. No problem really except that they had positioned themselves in a way to block forward progress for the rest of us trying to get by. Once that was resolved, I made it into the actual PreCheck queue for ID check.

Four senior citizens had been redirected from the general line to PreCheck. Makes sense….but they did not know what to do. “What is PreCheck? Is this that fast security? Do I have to take my shoes off?” Oy! Finally we made it to the spot where the line divides into three for ID and boarding pass check. I head for the shortest line just in time to catch this conversation thread.

TSA – “Sir, your boarding pass is fine, but your wife’s will not scan. You’ll need to go to the airline to get them to print you another.”

Hapless Passenger – “What do you mean?”

TSA – “Your boarding pass is fine, but your wife’s will not scan. If it does not scan properly your wife cannot go through. You’ll need to go to the airline to get them to print you another. If it does not scan properly your wife cannot go through.”

Hapless Passenger – “I don’t understand, we both have boarding passes.”

TSA – “Sir, your boarding pass is fine, but your wife’s will not scan. You’ll need to go to the airline to get them to print you another. If it does not scan properly your wife cannot go through.”

Hapless Passenger (pulling another boarding pass from his pocket that had been printed at home) – “Here.”

Three beeps! 🙂 Once I was finally past that, I was through the checkpoint in under a minute.

Don’t get me wrong, I still value PreCheck. Longer queues or not, it saves me time and hassle as opposed to the certain patdown I have to go through when it’s not available. I love PreCheck, I just loved it more when the only people going through knew what the heck to do. I know Atlanta is just a sample of one, but I’ve noticed this phenomena in more and more airports of late. Old PreCheck, I miss you.

-MJ, March 29, 2014