Airport Etiquette – Is It Okay To Ditch Your Companion For TSA PreCheck?

May 1, 2013

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In the security line at JFK yesterday as my mother and I prepared to depart for Chile yesterday, I was told that my boarding pass was cleared for TSA PreCheck and I faced an airport etiquette conundrum – should I abandon my mom in the longer security line and go through the much quicker PreCheck without her, or should I stick with her and wait?

I was surprised that I was allowed to use PreCheck since according to the FAQ page on the TSA site, At this time, TSA Pre✓™ is only available for passengers traveling domestically on participating airlines. If any leg of an itinerary is international, the passenger will not qualify for TSA Pre™ for that itinerary and will go through traditional screening.

Expect security lines to get a lot longer if budget cuts go into effect.

I’m not sure if it was just a glitch or if the TSA is relaxing this rule for the domestic legs of international itineraries, but it was an interesting situation.

I was going to stay in the Priority AAccess line with my mom (we were flying business class and it looked like it would only take 10 minutes), but she said I was being silly and that I should go through PreCheck since why go through the hassle of taking off my shoes, getting my laptop out and taking out my liquids if I didn’t have to?

So I did. And that’s when the reader comments started coming in on Facebook and Twitter!

I had Tweeted: “I qualified for Precheck but my mom didn’t so I left her in the regular elite line. Am I a bad son?”

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And here’s what folks on Twitter had to say:

“Depends on how hard your shoes, belt, etc. were to get on and off. ;)”

“Within a month of Mother’s Day?? Unacceptable”

“Ok, if you wait for her some points are redeemed (no pun intended)”

“She probably would have done the same.” You’re right!

The comments came flooding in on Facebook.
The comments came flooding in on Facebook.

On Facebook people were even more opinionated. Here are some of my favorite comments:

“Yes. Man up and wait for her. She waited around 9 months waiting for you. Not sure business class and Easter Island tops bringing you into the world. You owe her big time.”

“Lol! I don’t think so. Plus, I’m sure you got her ticket in the first place. You already scored bonus points for spending time with Mom!”

“Not if you show up with coffee and donuts at the other end.”

“Tell her to meet you in the lounge!” Well I did take her with me to the Flagship Lounge, which got me out of the doghouse.

“I left my GF in immigration today whilst I strolled through Global Entry.”

“I think you can leave spouses or other traveling companions… but maybe not a mom. Bet she wasn’t bothered about it though.”

“And at least she got the elite lane. It’s not like you abandoned her to a 45 minute wait!”

I loved this one: “I had enough points for only one first class ticket – so I left my husband in economy – am I a bad wife!?”

And then there was my mom’s response on Facebook: “Actually Brian did start out in line with me but I encouraged him to do the TSA access. He is a good guy – and, yes, I will be accepting flowers and alcohol.”

In the end, my mom didn’t care at all, and I only beat her through by a couple minutes and was waiting for her on the other end. Plus we had lots of quality time ahead of us on our flights to Miami and then on to Santiago.

Even though I left her behind in security, my mom and I had a great time en route and are enjoying Chile!
Even though I left her behind in security, my mom and I had a great time en route and are enjoying Chile!

But it did raise some interesting questions about the dynamics of traveling with a less-frequent or less-elite flyer who can’t go through expedited security and I wanted to hear what all of you think?

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How about with Global Entry, where customs and immigration lines can be very long…

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