Going through the TSA checkpoint in Orlando can be miserable. Lines get really long, and that’s just to get TO the checkpoint. Once you have your ID inspected, you need to wait for the security check of your baggage and possibly your person as well.
Our experiences aren’t nearly as bad as they used to be, since we get access to the TSA Precheck lanes by having Global Entry. The lines aren’t usually very long and we’re typically through security in less than 15 minutes.
Unfortunately, last Saturday, I went through my first major traffic jam in the TSA Precheck lane.
And it was all because of shoes.
After getting the usual speech yelled towards us by the TSA agents (“TAKE EVERYTHING OUT OF YOUR POCKETS AND PUT IT IN YOUR BAG! NO WATER BOTTLES, JUICE BOXES, SODAS IN YOUR BAG!”) I put my bag on the belt. Since I know the rules, I was ready for this procedure. There was a huge back up of people waiting for the x-ray machine. Like 30 people.
Now there’s not usually a wait at all for the actual x-ray screening. It almost seems like a formality at PreCheck that they’re expected to do but the machine is actually turned down to 1. Not today. Everyone was beeping. I mean everyone.
After each person would beep, the agent at the X-ray would then tell the person, “TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES AND PUT THEM WITH YOUR BAGS!” At that point, the person would need to leave the line, jump into the line to put their shoes on the belt and then get back into the X-ray line. Do they get to go back to the front or wait in line again? No one knew since the agent at the X-ray was already onto the next person in line, who had to remove their shoes. WTF?
It was then my turn and guess what? I beeped. I don’t know why. I was told to remove my shoes, which I did. I was wearing my Crocs, which I don’t think have a speck of metal in them.
Since my shoes have no laces, I was able to slip them off quickly and put them with the luggage belt and through the X-ray scanner. I then went through the scanner and I was fine. Funny that everyone wearing shoes at PreCheck, which was EVERYONE caused the machine to beep. When they took shoes off, no beep.
Worst of all, this was a huge cluster at the Pre-Check area, as they aren’t designed to handle a backup like this. The yelling lady didn’t know how to do crowd control. The X-ray worker didn’t know how to do anything but tell people to take off their shoes. Everyone else seemed to be unable to handle the chaos. Everyone’s bags were backing up on the other side of the x-ray machine as well. It was starting to look like that I Love Lucy episode at the candy factory or if the TSA was filming Candid Camera on their staff and fixed all the machines to beep every time just to see what they’d do.
Luckily, I was flying at 7AM so there wasn’t that much of a line. I can’t imagine what this looked like later in the day. I’m just glad I was already on my plane and on the way to Newark by then.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary