Cutting through the baloney at airport security
Besides pastrami, Katz's is famous for its World War II exhortation, "Send a salami to your boy in the Army." My boy, Funny Money Jr., or as I call him, Li'l Money ('cuz that's all he leaves us), is in middle school, but much like a soldier, a sixth-grader also travels on his stomach.
Things went smoothly until airport security, where the TSA lady stopped me, saying, "Sir, I am going to have to scan your salami."
That's a VERY dangerous thing to say to a professional smart-aleck. Fortunately, before I got myself exiled to Gitmo, the agent looked up and said, "You know what I mean!"
Waiter, Pre-Check, please!
This got me thinking about the Pre-Check program from the Transportation Security Administration. For $85, you can get a five-year security pass, complete with fingerprinting and a personal interview. Besides shorter lines, you keep your shoes, belt and jacket on, and your liquids and laptop stay in your suitcase.
The program is available at both terminals of Detroit Metro Airport. It includes Delta, Alaska, American, Hawaiian, United, US Airways and Virgin America airlines, and in September was expanded to 100 airports. So if your airline participates, Pre-Check lets you zip through the VIP security lanes faster than a sharp knife through a brisket.
As managing partner of Airline Weekly in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Seth Kaplan flies at least once a month. He gets access to Pre-Check since he's enrolled in Global Entry, a similar program from Customs and Border Protection. Running through security takes just a minute, he said, and he's never seen more than two or three people in line.
"It's been great," Kaplan says. "Even if you only travel once or twice a year, over five years you'll make back the time. It's a pretty good thing to know you can show up at the airport less than an hour before your flight and know that you'll be fine."
Forget the flip-flops
Traveling twice a year over five years, the cost would be $8.50 per trip, which seems reasonable, plus you don't have to expose the whole terminal to your rampant toenail fungus. But there are drawbacks.
First, you're still subject to random screening. Also, there's no guarantee you'll be approved and there are just two Pre-Check interview centers now, in Washington D.C. and Indianapolis. Your better bet might be to pay $100 and apply for Global Entry, which has 38 locations, including at Detroit Metro.
That means next time, me and my salami will slip through security faster than a pickled herring through sour cream. And that, my friends, ain't chopped liver.
(Brian J. O'Connor is an award-winning columnist for The Detroit News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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