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TSA PreCheck: How I Got with the Program

Sound Advice by Ruth D. Bernstein

Ruth Bernstein, Consumer Advocate

Ruth Bernstein, Consumer Advocate

On a recent trip to Ft. Lauderdale on Delta, I got TSA PreCheck without asking for it. I was delighted to discover TSA PreCheck allows you to go through a special security line that is much shorter than the regular line.

To qualify for this service on domestic flights, fill in the computer form and make an appointment at the local TSA office. There are three offices in the city. The one near City Hall is the least busy, so I was able to get an appointment in ten days. The TSA rep fingerprints you and photographs your passport or other legal ID and fills in the necessary information on a computer. The cost of this service is $85 for five years. It takes about three weeks to process the papers. If you want international clearance too, apply for Global Entry, which costs an additional $15, something I didn’t find out until after I arrived at the TSA office near City Hall.

When I arrived at the address for the TSA office, an office building up a steep flight of stairs, the security guard told me I was in the wrong place. I explained I had a hearing loss and was having trouble understanding his directions – “go up the block and turn left,” was what I heard. I went out the door, down those stairs and started walking up the block. When I got to the corner and turned, I saw the guard running towards me, pointing at the adjacent H &R Block office door, which had the same address and a TSA logo on it. After I was done being fingerprinted, etc., I went back and thanked him. If he hadn’t come after me, I probably would have spent a lot of time wandering around near City Hall and missing my appointment.

At the TSA office, I said I had a hearing loss. The young woman made a special effort to make sure I understood her directions by pointing at what I had to do. She also gave me instructions using her fingers. For “push three” she held up three fingers. When she explained the program was only for flights within the USA, I decided to register immediately rather than restart the process. I’m planning a trip to Tulsa and Austin at the end of February and will go through security three times in one week on that trip. I did not want to delay getting clearance! Besides, I probably won’t fly overseas a lot in the next five years. When I do, I will just have to go through regular security. I thanked the TSA rep for her patience and help for which she was grateful.

Explaining your communication needs and saying thank you to helpful people goes a long way to making life easier for everyone with hearing loss.

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