Monday Rave: Security Line, Experts Only
After countless flights over innumerable years, I am now a certified pro at airport security. Faster than you can say "bag check," I can slip off my shoes, pull out my computer and toiletries, place them in the tray, and saunter through the metal detecting machine, boarding pass in hand. I know which earrings and belt buckles set off the alarm and remove them accordingly.
So, I was excited to recently join other veteran fliers in the Black Diamond Self-Select Lanes, which cater to travelers who know how to move swiftly and expertly through the security lines. The Transportation Security Administration launched the program in February in Salt Lake City, and more than 30 airports, including Dulles, now feature these appointed lanes.
The Virginia airport can be a bear to use. In addition to its sci-fi people movers (which will be replaced next year with AeroTrains), its security lines are often congested and twisted in a maze with no exit in sight. The new lanes attempt to free up traffic by targeting travelers who know not to carry pocket knives and Jell-O. According to the TSA's criteria, you must be a "frequent traveler who knows how to get through checkpoint quickly & efficiently," is "very familiar with TSA procedures and always prepared" and "understands 3-1-1 liquids policy." Check, check and check.
When I arrived at the airport last week, there was no pop quiz or vetting process. An official directed me to the lane not because of my savvy skills but because the security lanes on the ticketing level were overcrowded. In fact, he directed everyone to the lanes, frequent and first-time fliers both.
Despite the egalitarianism, the black diamond lanes were a blessing. Because the security area is tucked away between baggage claim areas 7 and 8 on the lower level and because many travelers were resistant to split from the pack, I had only one person ahead of me. Fortunately, he knew the drill, and I was in and out within moments. Which got me thinking: Maybe only pro travelers know not to follow the hordes but instead to break off and take the less-trammeled route. For me, it's Black Diamond forever.
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