Seems all we hear lately is bad and discouraging news about flying flight delays, added charges, rude TSA agents, passengers acting up… Well, here is a little good news instead.
First, according to a recent report, TSA is modifying its screening practices for elderly travelers, due to an incident involving an 85-year-old lady, who said she was injured and humiliated last December during a strip search at JFK. Days later, an 88-year-old was forced to pull down her pants and show her colostomy bag during a search. TSA later apologized, and changed their policy. Now, if you are 75 or older you will be allowed to keep your shoes and light outerwear on as you pass through the security checkpoints. And instead of a pat-down, most anomalies can be remedied by a second pass through the scanner.
A pilot program of this less stringent approach began in March in certain airports, and is to be rolled out nationally throughout the summer.
Next, some of you may recall my mention in this column last April of the Global Entry System, which is offered to frequent flyers willing to go through a pre-screening procedure, allowing them to avoid lines and save time when re-entering the U.S. Well, I was able to use my card for the first time when returning from Europe in May and, as promised, here’s my report.
First, it did me no good on the way out of Vegas. I had to go through the same security procedures as everyone else. Upon my return, however, the Global Entry Card paid off. There were more than 330 passengers on the plane I came in on from London. After picking up their luggage, all of them had to join a queue for passport control except me. I was able to bypass this line, going straight to a little kiosk to the left of the passport control booths, where I inserted my card, electronically answered whether I had anything to declare, placed my hand on a scanner that checked my fingerprints, looked up at a camera, and bingo, out came a paper receipt, which I handed to the security officer as I left the room. I was the first one out! and figure it saved as much as an hour, not to mention a ton of added stress at the culmination of leading back to back tours, and five weeks of travel.