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TSA PreCheck: Should You Ditch Your Travel Companion If They Don’t Have It?


Travel Debates is a series in which our editors weigh in on the most contentious issues that arise in-transit, like whether you should ever switch seats on a plane or if you should check your work email while on vacation.

The security line is long. Your patience wears thin. There is a Shake Shack just past security—you can’t smell it but you know that it’s there. You have TSA PreCheck, but your travel companion does not. Do you ditch them? Can you?

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The fee for a five-year membership to the expedited security screening program may have just dropped, but that doesn’t mean that everybody has gone through the enrollment process. As you, who may or may not have secured PreCheck status for yourself, prepare to face down the Christmastime chaos brewing at our already overwhelmed airports, consider your values. Are you inclined to use what you’ve paid for? Or are you firmly determined to leave no man behind? We have editors on either side of this issue—find out where they stand below.

See you on the other side

I’ve had PreCheck for five years (and just renewed it), and I’m definitely that person who ditches friends/travel partners to take full advantage of the luxury that is not having to take off my shoes in a grimy airport. My partner and many of my travel-savvy family and friends have the service, too, so it’s not usually an everyone-for-themselves situation—which is maybe why I’m so accustomed to it and keen to use mine. But when it does demand parting ways, I’m pretty direct about just saying “meet you on the other side!” —Shannon McMahon, destinations editor

I am a bit ashamed to admit this, but I am the one in my relationship without TSA PreCheck (I know, I know). However, I always urge my partner to take advantage of the PreCheck line. I have my reasons. For example, if they stay with you, you’ll have to listen to the TSA agent tell your partner they’re in the slow line, and then hang your head in shame when they explain, “She doesn’t have PreCheck.” You’ll also be filled with guilt when you have to watch them grudgingly slip their shoes off, when you know they otherwise wouldn’t have to. —Mercedes Bleth, global associate director of social

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My ex used to regularly ditch me at TSA PreCheck, and I plan to forever hold a grudge. But I guess the answer to this problem is that I should also enroll.—Alex Erdekian, travel bookings editor

PreCheck your privilege

This is incredibly relevant for me right now, because my husband and I are embarking on our winter travels soon. Me with my brand new Global Entry, TSA Pre-Check, and CLEAR accounts ready to deploy. Him? None of the above. Still, I think I’m going to play nice and save those perks for another day—and suffer the serpentine holiday queues alongside him. I think of it as a way to collect brownie points that I can cash in later…when he least suspects it. I may or may not live to regret it. Like the one time I got an extra legroom seat for free and I gave it up to sit with him, squashed into a middle row seat for a 14-hour flight. And all I got at the end of it was: “Oh, you didn’t have to. I was just going to sleep anyway.”—Arati Menon, global digital director


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