Travel Deals

TSA PreCheck Would Have Worked – Except for the TSA

TSA precheck
Written by Charlie

TSA PreCheck is an amazing program that helps trusted travelers zip through security. Except for when TSA doesn’t let it work the way it is supposed to.

One of my all-time favorite programs that I belong to has to the the TSA PreCheck program with their Trusted Traveler Network. It has cut down my time so much at US airports to the point that it changes my travel habits when I am flying with an airline that has participation with the TSA PreCheck program (see more about the current list of airlines with TSA PreCheck here).

TSA PreCheck Would Have Worked – Except for the TSA

I was quite happy when Emirates joined the program since I knew I would be flying Emirates from Newark to Athens a little bit and I always enjoy having that ability to breeze through security.

This particular time (yesterday) was especially useful to me because I was actually flying with two laptops and more than usual stuff in my carryons. When I picked up my boarding pass from Emirates (flying economy) and saw the TSA PreCheck, I was happy about that. I was even more happy when I entered the security area for gates B60 – B68 at Newark and saw a huge line of people snaking through the area.

No TSA PreCheck?

I promptly looked for the TSA PreCheck lane – except there wasn’t one here. Ok, when that normally happens, I normally get an orange card that tells me that I still need to take my laptops and liquids out but I can leave my jacket, belt, and shoes on and go through the metal detector.

When I got to the first TSA agent, I asked about the orange cards and was told that they had stopped giving them out “because it is just too busy right now.” 

What Is The Purpose of TSA PreCheck?

According to TSA “With a 5 year, $85 membership, you can speed through security and don’t need to remove your:
shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets.” 
That’s right, the point is to be able to speed through security.

Look, I completely understand that security areas can get overwhelmed, especially for international flights and especially at this time of year. But, that kind of scenario is exactly what TSA PreCheck is for! To help “trusted travelers” clear security quicker, thanks to having paid for the membership and having been examined to be cleared for this expedited screening.

If it is as busy as it was, I would think that the line would go even quicker when you have your trusted travelers (who presumably know the PreCheck drill) be able to not clutter the x-ray machine with the items we get to keep on our person and that we would be scanned by a regular metal detector – thereby having a separate line in use (which would also hasten people through).

But, no. TSA’s answer to busy crowds and lines was to stop using the orange cards and forget recognizing PreCheck travelers at all.

a blurry image of a man standing in a room

Yeah, I did that already, TSA, but it didn’t help me at a major international airport!

Thanks, Emirates, glad you are a part of the program. Just wish the TSA part worked out also. 🙂

Featured image By Arina P Habich, Courtesy of Shutterstock

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • precheck is awesome and has made the airport experience go from completely awful to “not that bad”. i wouldn’t lambast an entire program because you are butthurt that you didn’t get the benefits one time. look at the big picture.

    • Bigger picture? care to elaborate?

      When traveling, my focus is my self and my group, whether getting through security of getting on the plane. I see nothing bigger than someone not getting what they paid for.

      If I pay for a service, ie. chauffeur , I expecting to see a chauffeur waiting for me.

      The TSA are extremely inefficient, though they did go from missing 90% of threats to 80%~, will still fail any standardized test.

    • I didn’t lambast the whole program. The program IS awesome and I love it and talk about it a lot. The problem is TSA officers that decide when to not allow the program to work like it is supposed to. Which was the point of the post.

      • I agree. In about half of the flights I’ve taken, domestic or international, TSA has not had a pre-check line available. We paid for Global Entry and truly it’s becoming a waste of money. It’s not recognized anywhere except to help in clearing customs in the USA, which is similarly available for free using Mobile Passport which allows for a good amount of time cut from waiting in customs line. Our hopes for Global Entry was that it would help cut away time entering and exiting other countries as well.

  • I wonder what it’s like to work for an organization that fails at every performance metric, is accountable to no one, and management never gets fired?