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Rick: Hey everybody thank you for joining us today on the FareCompare weekly podcast. My name is Rick Seaney, I’m the co-founder and CEO and we’re going to chat a little bit today one of my favorite programs which is getting through the airport in pre-9/11 screening style, called pre-check or “TSA Pre-check” if you are Googling it. I think if you probably Google pre-check you’ll find it because Google’s pretty good about finding those things. And joining me today to talk a little bit about why you should actually join pre-check and some of the particulars there is our editor from the site at FareCompare from California today, hey Anne McDermott. Hey Anne.
Anne: Hey Rick. I keep thinking you know you are so lucky to have me as a foil for these podcast because I never do anything right. I never join pre-check, I buy my tickets too late, but that way I can add a sort of realism to this podcast.
Rick: Yeah I need to actually have somebody that’s actually experienced the pain and agony of not having pre-check.
Anne: And boy have I ever!
Rick: Oh well you’re not the only one. I think before that program everybody had it. I mean and I’ll be honest with you, there’s been times where you know my 13-year old daughter, we’ve sort of said she’s 12! Trying to get through and it’s like, “Oh but she’s very tall.” “Yeah she’s very tall for?” It’s because 12-year olds basically get through the special line and they don’t have to go through the body scanner. My wife is just really not a fan of going through the body scanner. I know a lot of people aren’t. You know we’ve talked about this in the past, it’s not really an X-Ray and they can’t see through you. It’s sort of a gingerbread man that shows up on the other side. But again even in Europe, the body scanner is being–there’s a lot of chatter about the body scanner and its health effects. And you know even here in the US they got rid of the back scanner so you don’t see those anymore which were the ones that were open like an open MRI. So I mean a lot of people don’t like the body scanner. A lot of people don’t like standing in long lines. The TSA wants to get 50% of all people through pre-check. I was just doing a radio show yesterday and a couple people said, “Hey I was randomly selected for pre-check. I didn’t sign up, didn’t go anything.” So some people will be randomly selected. I’m not sure if you’ve been randomly selected yet Anne.
Anne: I have and actually I liked it very much and it is forcing me to sign up for it. But you know here’s the thing, even if you don’t care about the back–that there is machines you’ve got to walk through–to me, the greatest gift of pre-check is a faster experience.
Rick: Yeah and I think–well lets step back a little bit and talk about pre-check. So the pre-check program itself went into effect a couple years ago. And if you had elite status on certain airlines, you automatically got pre-check for awhile. So I got to be one of the people that got that and got to use pre-check early on. But now the program is allowing anybody to get into but you do have to pay $85 I believe, I think that’s for 5 years. That’s just under $20 a year. And as part of that, you sign up, you actually have to go do an interview. And what I would do if you’re doing that and you’re flying internationally, definitely use what’s called “global entry.” It’s just an extra, I think it’s $100 for 5 years instead of $85 so I think it’s exactly $20 a year. So you get pre-check and as well you get to go through immigrations and customs on your way back internationally in a much faster fashion. You go through a kiosk, you put your hand in, they take your fingerprints, and you get to bypass those long lines. I just got back awhile back from the Cayman Islands and I got through customs and security with global entry in about 5 minutes and the line appeared to be about an hour and a half long.
Rick: It was definitely worthwhile.
Anne: That’s worth $100 a year let alone $20.
Rick: It is! And I think it’s one of the best things. So now here’s part of the problem, when they start giving everybody random pre-check, they’re not really people that know what pre-check is. They start taking off their shoes and a variety of other things. They take their liquids out of their bags and slow everything down. And so they’ve got to a better job of training people when they randomly pick them to make sure they know, moving through the lines, that they are going through a metal detector. Their liquids stay in their bag, their computers and whatnot stay in their bag, their shoes can stay on, and you’re good to go. Basically it’s a pre-9/11 screening.
Anne: And that’s wonderful. I also think it’s great like a mood enhancer. I mean if you have a really easy, just walk through security type of experience. I mean you’re just in a great place for stepping on that plane. That sounds so hokey but it’s true! It?s true!
Rick: Well I think it’s true. Well here’s what I would say is when you go through something and you don’t–it’s not like you’re saying, “Wow that was a great experience.” It was just a great experience and you didn’t have–and you didn’t feel it. But when you go through and it takes an hour or it’s a hassle or whatever then you’re really hot. And so it’s just like anything that’s good. It’s like if it happens really nicely you don’t really notice and that’s a good thing. And on the flip side, you do notice everything that’s wrong.
Anne: Yeah, yeah. So I guess the message is sign up for pre-check.
Rick: If you take more than two trips a year you absolutely need to get pre-check.
Anne: Thanks Rick.
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