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.
This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.
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?
The fee for a five-year membership to the expedited security screening program may have dropped back in November, but that doesn’t mean that everybody has managed to enroll—even Traveler editors, as you’ll see below, are among those who for one reason or another have not gotten round to doing so. So, as we stare down the barrel of summer travel, it's time to ask the hard questions: Are you inclined to use what you’ve paid for? Or are you firmly determined to leave no person behind? Is there a way, dare we say, to use your lack of PreCheck to your advantage? Below, senior features editor Rebecca Misner, senior visuals editor Pallavi Kumar, destinations editor Shannon McMahon, and editorial assistant Charlie Hobbs convene and discuss.
Charlie Hobbs: Would you ever ditch a traveling companion who didn’t have TSA PreCheck?
Rebecca Misner: This is so embarrassing, but my husband has TSA PreCheck and I do not, which is fodder for all sorts of family jokes. And so, if he’s booked the ticket, the kids automatically get it and then I’m by myself.
CH: And how does that feel?
RM: I will tell you, I'll be honest, at first I was a little bit stung by the whole thing. Times are changing a bit, and it always depends what airport you’re at, but this started during a time when I would have to take my laptop out and unpack my toiletries and take my shoes off. And they didn't. I'm a travel editor, we’d probably be traveling for a story I'm writing, it all felt wrong. But then, I started saying, “Okay, you guys are going to get through first and you have to get me a coffee and breakfast,” or, “You have to check in with the gate agent and get our seats together.” So now I delegate chores to those who get through first—it’s a bit of a silver lining of being the person left behind, you just have to milk it and make it work for you.
Pallavi Kumar: My sister and I were traveling with a couple, and they had PreCheck and we didn’t. We split up and my sister and I ended up getting through security faster than they did. We bought some books and met them at the gate and got to poke some fun at them, like: “How useful is PreCheck, really?” But we really didn’t mind that initial split between those with PreCheck and those without, because we had each other. I think it’s different if there’s just two of you.