Podcast Transcript: Faster Security: TSA Answers Passenger Questions about PreCheck

Rick: Hey everybody, thank you for joining us on the FareCompare weekly podcast.  My name is Rick Seaney.  I?m the co-founder of FareCompare.com.  We are going to chat a little bit about people who don?t travel a whole lot, maybe somebody that only travels once a year, or once every couple of years.  I know we have some family members in our extended family that do this, and things change. I mean, we?ve seen lots of changes.  We just saw, you know, electronics policy changes.  We?ve seen airlines change a variety of things, and because of that we thought we would at least go over some of these sort of flying 101 things again, for those people that don?t fly quite as much. Joining me today to chat about this is our editor from the site of FareCompare.com, Anne McDermontt from California, Anne?

Anne:  Hey Rick!  Actually, this is a pretty good thing for somebody like myself. I actually sort of think I fly a fair amount, I don?t know, like maybe 4 times a year. You?re probably laughing now.

Rick:  Oh yeah, that?s actually quite a bit actually for most folks.

Anne:  Every time I go to the airport it?s like, I guess I forget or something, because it always seems like, oh my, this is all new. When did they start doing this?

Rick: There?s a new sign that nobody reads.

Anne:  Yeah, exactly ?exactly. And, you know, some of the things experts know, like about the liquid rules that TSA Security rules.  People forget ? people that do it, you know, month after month after month.  So, it?s a good thing to remember.  You can only have 3.4oz of liquid per container, and you can only have as much liquid containers ? those individual containers, as will fit into a quart size zip bag.  And by the way, that is not the big bag ? the big back of zip lock bag.  It?s the smallish one that a sandwich fits in. So you can not bring much in the way of liquids.

Rick:  Yeah, it always sort of tickled me when they said 3.4oz.  It is like, if you don?t own a beaker, how do you measure out that last .4 of an once?  I?m not sure exactly how that works. I have a feeling it has something to do with a conversion to a metric somehow.

Anne:  Yes it does.   And If I were a smarter person I would be able to rip off a statistic, but I?m not, so?

Rick:  Yeah, so the one that always confused me, Anne to be honest, is these big long versions of Mennen speed stick deodorant that say that they are 3oz deodorant, but it looks like it?s the size of a gallon of milk.

Anne:  I believe you are paying for the packaging for the plastic container.

Rick:  I mean, you always get the discount double-take from the TSA agent when it goes through.  But it does say 3oz on there.

Anne:  Well the funny thing is, I?ve heard a lot of people say sometimes the stick deodorants do not do it.  Ah, but?, you know.

Rick:  But we digress?

Anne:  But we digress, so please read the TSA rules at TSA.gov.

Rick:  Yes, that?s correct. Yeah, and I think the other thing that most are ? get a foul up for most degree is the fact that some people will be going through metal detectors and some people will be going through body scanners.  Typically, smaller airports only have the metal detectors and the bigger airports have the body scanners, which takes a little bit of extra time.  And you can not carry your valuables through there at all.  Although, they will let you take your wallet, for example, and leave it in your hands and when you raise them above your head, so.  I know my father-in-law will not part with his wallet through the x-ray scanning machine, and I know several people that do not want that to occur either, so.

Anne:  By the way, if you do not want the body scanner, no problem. But you will have to have a pat-down, so the choice.

Rick: Yes, and these are not your grandmother?s pat-downs. These are full-fledged, you know, wrap you over the car pat-downs.  These are nothing you want to go through.  I had my wife actually say that she just didn?t want to go through the body scanner ? she opted for the pat-down.  I said, you really don?t want to do this, and she did it.  And she said, I will never do that again.

Anne:  Well, ah yes, but there is an easier way, thanks to the new PreCheck program, which is really gaining a popularity along with the government Trusted Traveler program.

Rick:  Yeah, you?ve got global entry, so you can type in global entry and then the Google will show it, and then the TSA PreCheck program.  Both of them do cost and they are a little bit of a hassle because you have to go take an interview out at the airport, and you do have to give your fingerprints and go through a very brief to get these programs.  But for travelers that don?t travel very often, I?m not sure it?s a great deal because of the cost if you are only going to be traveling once a year, or maybe once every couple of years. These may not be exactly for you.  But, you know, if you?re willing to ? if you want to check out these programs definitely read up on them.  It?s basically TSA pre-check.  It?s sort of pre-911 check in procedures.  Your liquids stay in the bag, which they don?t in any other case.  Your shoes stay on, which they don?t in the other case, and you?re going through a metal detector.

Anne:  As far as the cost goes, I will say it breaks down to about $20 a year.  If you only fly once, it?s still cheaper than checking a bag for round trip per bag.

Rick:  Oh I guess that is true too.  Plus you do get through, especially if you are planning on going on some busy days, like a Monday or a Friday, which are the two sort of busiest days at the airport, it?s worth it.  Now I have heard and seen some stuff lately that the pre-check lines are getting longer and longer because of the popularity of this program.  TSA, at least at some airports, is having some issues with it.  So just be aware of that.

Anne:  And the other thing is, bring a credit card when you travel.  And the reason for that is there is hardly anything, in fact I think there is nothing, you can buy on a plane that you might want to buy, for cash anymore.

Rick:  Yeah, used to cash was king on an aircraft, but that is no longer the case. They all are pretty much connected, and even if they?re not, they are going to take your credit card only, so cash will not help you unless you?d  like to give a flight attendant a gift for helping you fly, now that you can have your device on, except in airplane mode for the first ten thousand feet, but that?s for another podcast.

Anne:  I can?t wait for that one!  Thanks, Rick.


Published: March 31, 2014