Why didn’t I know about this earlier?
I wanted to share one of my experiences with TSA security on a recent trip. I had a 5:30 am flight to Portland OR out of Tampa right before Hurricane Irma. I’m on of those travelers that likes to show up at least 90 minutes before my flight just to make sure there are no issues. Don’t get me wrong, I love flying out of Tampa International and it has been voted one of the most travel-friendly airports in the country a few times. But this was not one of those times.
I arrived at the airport early as always and proceeded to the tram loading area which takes you to the main gate. I stood there waiting and trying to figure out why they weren’t letting anyone get on the tram. I finally asked the guy behind me in line if he knew why we were not allowed in. I found out TSA doesn’t start working until 5 am. Why in the world would you have early flights but no TSA until 5 am? I asked Atlanta airport staff and they said they don’t do that so what’s the deal?
At this point I was starting to get worried that I wasn’t going to make my flight. Now it’s 5:00 and they tram is finally transporting people to the main gate but the lines for TSA security check are ridiculously long.
I look to my right and I see people going through the TSA Pre Check lines next to me. No shoe removal, no taking off my belt and my pants falling down, no removing my laptop and liquids from bags…nothing! I ask one of the employees what I need to do to go through that line and he said with the coldest, straightest face “That’s for Pre-Check only.”
Once they checked my ID I told them I had a 5:30 flight and they pulled me to the head of the line. But, I did feel guilty cutting ahead of those other people and anyone could have used the “I have a 5:30 flight” excuse.
The lesson learned here is if you want to avoid the same fiasco with an early AM flight out of Tampa, sign up ahead of time for the TSA Pre-Check. Although there is no guarantee of a Pre-Check on every flight, it is worth the $85.00 for the 5-year enrollment. You can go to the Homeland Security website for more details.