René wrote a post earlier this week about his airport security experience with an Analogic CT-based security imaging system.
Basically, the scanner (which many people will surely refer to as the “x-ray machine”) is advanced to the point that laptops and liquids don’t need to be removed from carryon luggage before the bags are examined by machines.
TSA Pre√ members have long enjoyed the privilege of not needing to remove their laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids. After all, we’re deemed “low-risk” of carrying out any terroristic behavior. (Not needing to remove belts and shoes before walking through magnetometer or other body scanning machines is another perk.)
Folks without Pre√ membership still must go through all that hassle.
But thanks to CT-based scanners they may eventually be spared the annoyance of taking out laptops and liquids.
What?! I can hear some Pre√ members complaining. Isn’t this what I’m paying for? Why can “normal” people now get this for free?!
Before your travel undies get into a twist, let’s consider a few points.
TSA Pre√ is Still Worth It for Frequent-ish Travelers
I say, yes, TSA Pre√ is very much worth its weight for people who travel at least several times a year. Here’s why.
You’re Probably Not Paying for TSA Pre√
Many people hold at least one credit card offering reimbursement for the TSA Pre√ application fee ($85) or Global Entry application fee ($100) every four or so years. (Global Entry includes TSA Pre√ and is, in our opinion, a far better deal if you plan to travel internationally every year or so.)
As I often say, “Is a travel credit card even a travel credit card if it doesn’t offer Global Entry or TSA Pre√ reimbursement?” Seriously. It was kind of a special thing a few years ago. But now it’s almost a standard perk many travel credit cards offer.
Given this is a travel-and-miles/points blog, chances are at least one of your cards has you covered for Global Entry or TSA Pre√.
Even if you shelled out $85 for five years of Pre√ membership, that’s still a decent deal. My aunt Abby paid out of pocket for Pre√ and always says it’s the “best $85 I ever spent.”
Advanced Scanners Aren’t Everywhere
I regularly fly out of Los Angeles International (LAX). It’s one of the world’s busiest airports in terms of passengers.
I almost always fly Delta — but occasionally make cameos on Southwest, United, and American.
Never have I seen one of the CT-based scanners at LAX. Maybe they’re in place and I just got shuffled off to a different line I don’t know. I wouldn’t doubt it.
I was stunned to hear that freaking South Bend (SBN) had one — and LAX is still using old technology. (Although, really, I shouldn’t be. LAX is an excellent, 19th Century airport.) Nothing against South Bend. I hear lovely things.
We’re still a while from CT scanners being status quo at airports. So, don’t cancel that Pre√ membership quite yet.
Shoes and Belts
Even if laptops and liquids can remain in bags, remember that non-Pre√ members must still remove footwear and belts before walking through a magnetometer or standing in one of those body-scanning thingamies.
If you don’t regularly travel, that’s not such a big deal. But for folks who find themselves on planes several times a year (or week), keeping shoes and belts on feels like a priceless luxury.
Heck, I’d pay for that even if I didn’t hold a jillion credit cards offering Pre√.
CT-based scanners are rolling out to various airports. These machines allow laptops and liquids to remain in carryon bags.
This means non-TSA Pre√ members can enjoy privileges many of us love. And that’s fine with me. If it means shorter lines and a better experience for everyone, I’m all in favor.
Something tells me that as long as the government can charge money for some sort of extra perks, they’ll do something to keep TSA Pre√ and Global Entry members happy. So, stay tuned.
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