Friday, October 5, 2018

FMM - TSA Precheck, CHECK!

I usually fly at least a couple times a year, and why it's taken me this long to apply for TSA Precheck status is beyond me.  It's like I can't be bothered with the hassle until I'm standing in the long TSA line at the airport, staring wistfully at the handful of travelers who walk right up to the front, and then I kick myself.  We have a couple of trips planned before the end of the year, so I was determined that we needed to do this, finally.  It helped that Karen and Jimmy had recently gone through the process so I knew what to expect.

The way it works is that you apply online and then make an appointment at a TSA Precheck center to do your interview, which consists of basically answering the questions in person that you already answered online, along with presenting your documents - in my case I had to have my birth certificate and my marriage certificate, since I used to have a different last name.  Your fingerprints are taken and they also take a picture of you.  Then you just hand over your credit card for the $85 fee, and you'll receive your number shortly, both via email and as a letter in the regular mail.

Because we live in freaking hooterville, there are no TSA centers in our town.  I had the option of choosing from a lot of places in Houston - I think the closest location was about 65 miles away - or we could go to the Austin airport, which is about 110 miles away.  Every location has different dates and times that are available, and because the Houston location wasn't available until late October, we chose Austin because we could do it right away - not that we needed it immediately, but we had to work around Jeff's schedule with his job. 

So, bright and early Monday morning, we made the two hour drive to the Austin airport - luckily for us, it's located on the side of the city where we are coming from, so we didn't have to deal with Austin traffic.  It took us three loops around the airport to park because of construction and odd signage - in case you ever need to park there, go to the valet sign even if you aren't valet parking - short term parking is just beyond it.  We walked into the baggage claim area and easily found the little TSA Precheck office - there was one person waiting and although we were early for our appointed times, the woman at the check in desk said that we would be next after him - yay!

The guy ahead of us was in there for a long time - Karen said their interview took about five minutes, and this guy was probably in there for 20 minutes.  The door was open and we could see that he was just chitchatting with the interviewer, so when it was our turn, Jeff and I tried to not make a lot of small talk as we needed to get back on the road home so he could go to work.  The interviewer went over everything with Jeff first, and you could tell he does this all day, every day as his prattle was a well-rehearsed set of sentences.  Side note:  I can't imagine having a job like that.  It seems incredibly boring - but, I'm glad there are people who will take on these government jobs.

It got funny when it was my turn.  I handed over my documents and the interviewer started his spiel.  There is a computer monitor facing you so as he's typing things in, we can see it.  He asked me to verify my email address and I had to correct him as he'd left off the second E in Shelley.  I swear to god, the very next thing he said, after I'd said "it's Shelley with two E's" was OK Sheila...and I felt Jeff move next to me but I was not going to correct this guy because I was afraid it would throw him off and we'd be in there forever.  He went back and forth, alternating between Sheila and Shelley, and I couldn't even look at Jeff or I knew we'd both be cracking up.  I would understand if he only called me Sheila, but the fact that he kept alternating between names was both weird and funny; that said, you better believe I made darn sure that Shelley was actually on the documents he was typing in!

We finally finished and he bade Jeff and Sheila goodbye, safe drive home.  We left the room and walked out of earshot before laughing - Jeff said he realized that when I didn't correct him right away I was trying to speed things along, but it didn't stop him from barely holding a straight face the entire time.

You should know that over the years I've been called Shelby and Sherry quite a lot, but Sheila is a rarity.  And when I was in fifth grade, my teacher called me by the wrong name all year and I never corrected her, so I guess you could say I'm used to this and just go with the flow.  Is that weird?  Would you have corrected the interviewer?  I figured I'd never see him again, and my name was correct on the documents, so why bother?

While the interviewer said we'd receive our numbers in 10 - 14 days, we actually got them yesterday - four days!  That's probably unheard of in any other government entity, but it's nice that we are all set.

So my take on getting your TSA Precheck number is that it's an easy pain-in-the-ass to do.  If we had a TSA center in our town, I'd take out the PITA.  But if you do fly often, I'd recommend getting it.  Just hope that you aren't called Sheila...unless of course, you actually ARE named Sheila!

Have a great weekend!

21 comments:

  1. Good for you holding your tongue and keeping your cool. I hate when people get my name wrong the only person I let get by with it is my dad he calls me Susie like I am still 5 everybody else its SUSAN oh and I go by my middle name just to make matters more fun. I put up with being called by my first name only at doctor's appts everybody else is asked to call me Susan with no variations on that.
    I turn 54 this Sunday and I think since I started in my 50's I've gotten more particular about some things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love it - yes, turning 50 definitely empowers you to stop putting up with certain things. I don't get people changing someone's name like that without knowing if it was welcome...to me you are Susan. Who is Susie? Not you!

      Delete
  2. I get TSA precheck usually when I fly so I haven't applied to have it all the time. Such a hassle. I get called Windy a lot. As if that's even a name...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Strangely enough, I went to school with two sisters - one named Stormy and the other named Windy. #californiahippieparents

      Delete
  3. We are going to be flying a bit in the next couple years so I guess I need to get the ball rolling on this. I get called Karen all the time. What? How does that come from Helen? And people CONSTANTLY spell my name Hellen. Which I might get if it was my last name but nope. I spend quite a bit of time correcting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. KAREN?? That doesn't even begin with the same letter!

      Delete
  4. I wonder if the TSA agent is just that bored that he was intentionally screwing your name up? That's so odd that he kept alternating between the two! Anne constantly gets spelled wrong, as do both my maiden and married names. My maiden name is the way it's spelled in the dictionary so that drives me NUTS, while my married name does have about 20 different variations apparently.

    It seems like just about everyone I know has TSA pre-check - if everyone has it, will the regular lines go down? :) Now that we're not flying out of O'Hare as our home airport, honestly, security hasn't been that bad. It takes like 2 minutes coming out of Columbus, and I guess I've lucked out on my return trips home from SFO and Chicago. Thanks for explaining the process though! It does sound really simple!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think he was intentionally doing it because he was saying everything in such a monotonous, rote voice. It was odd.

      We have such a small airport to fly out of here that TSA Precheck isn't necessary, but it's when we do the return trip that I want it.

      Delete
  5. Well Sheila, that is hilarious! Even though my name is Jill, I often get called Kim. I have no idea why, I must look like a Kim or something, but on several different occasions by different people I have been referred to as Kim. And my maiden name is German - it starts with a Pf and there's also a "ue" in there as well, so you can imagine how much fun school was for Little Kim. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Edited to add: my maiden name isn't "German", it's derived from the German language. Just thought I should clarify that. :)

      Delete
    2. Haha, I knew what you were saying, Kim German. ;)

      But again, like Helen being called Karen - Kim is nothing close to Jill! WTH people??

      Delete
  6. That is funny AND weird that he kept alternating between the two names. I don't fly that often, and of course it irks me that you have to pay $85 to get to the front of the line. Sometimes I get the free pre-check and I don't even notice it and they have to send me over to the shorter line Names--you can just imagine what gets done with Schnabel. And I chose Debby with a Y when I was in kindergarten. Even my dad had a hard time remembering that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've done that before, not realize I had the precheck on my boarding pass until I was in the wrong line.

      Interesting that you were the one to choose your name spelling! I love that. :)

      Delete
  7. I'm with Susan. Don't shorten my name to a single syllable, don't cute-sy it up with an "ie" ending. Drives me crazy. Here's a weird one--so often people assume that I am a teacher; I am not. But I get that alot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having a best friend named Barbara, I totally get what you are saying. She is NOT Barbie.

      Delete
  8. Ours came that quickly too! We just got them and I am adding our KTN to our upcoming flights :)

    LOL wth Sheila. I am glad he got it right on the docs, at least. And thanks for the Austin airport tip!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How nice that yours came as quickly - honestly, I was surprised, given that it was a government thing.

      Delete
  9. I must have an innocent looking face. They last few time I've flown they wave me through to the precheck line! (This is maryfran beliefinmyself...testing a different phone as my iphone and ipad wont let me post...trying my boyfriends samsung)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've randomly gotten Precheck before, but having it for real means I don't ever have to take out my quart-sized bag of toiletries, or take off my shoes, or take out my iPad - really looking forward to going back to the old-school way of travel!

      Delete
  10. I totally get you on NOT correcting, but watching like a hawk, especially when you were in a hurry.
    I kind of have to laugh when I give my name at a place where the spelling does not matter at all, such as putting my name in at a restaurant for a table, and they ask if I spell Christine with a C or K. It doesn't matter what they write, pick one? Chrissy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL for real...what does it matter when it's just for their quick purpose?!

      Delete

I love hearing from you and read each and every comment! Comments on older posts are moderated, so they won't show up right away - sorry to my real readers, but spammers love to hit old posts, so this is necessary.