How We Skip the Line with TSA Precheck


The bus pulled up to the terminal at 9:32 am, a full 12 minutes behind schedule. Normally that’s not be a big deal, but considering our flight was to take off a mere 43 minutes later we were in a panic. We looked at each other and both said at the same time, “We’re never going to make our flight.” Deep down we knew it would take a miracle. Too bad our cab never made it to the hotel that morning and we had to resort to begging the hotel staff for a ride to the bus after waiting for over an hour. We impatiently disembarked from the bus, grabbed our bags, stumbled our way to the other side of the airport and stared in disbelief at the line wrapped back-and-forth in front of the Southwest counter. Glancing outside, the curbside checkin was beckoning. It looked like there were about 15 parties in line so I did what any mother in a rush would do. I used our cute daughter, who was strapped to my back, as a sympathy card. Going to each party, starting at the back of the line, I anxiously asked if we could jump in front of them. Everyone agreed with the exception of the grumpy old lady up front who said she needed a wheelchair. And just like that we were at the front of the line checking in.

Step one…check-in…done. Now off to security. Good luck, right?! That’s where TSA Pre-Check came in. If you don’t know what Pre-Check is, let me enlighten you. It’s a pre-screened line for security where you do not have to take off your shoes, remove your toiletries or laptops from your bag, or go through the x-ray machine. In other words, it’s awesome. Now, it’s not available at every airport or with every airline so there’s no guarantee you will be able to use it, but we knew it was available at the Denver airport and it came with our Global Entry status.

TSA Pre-Check Pays For Itself
TSA Pre-Check Pays For Itself

As we walked through the security line, we realized that the $300 we spent on our Global Entry applications was the best investment on this trip. Without that, we would have had to beg our way through the security line and still would have probably missed our flight. That would have cost us more in time, money and stress than that application fee.

Step two…security…done. Now we just had to make it to the plane. If you’ve been to the Denver airport then you know that you have to catch a train between terminals. Lucky for us we just happened to sneak onto a train as the doors were closing. Another 30 seconds in security and we would have missed the train and probably our plane. Are you starting to see a pattern here? Ahh, home free. We relaxed a bit on the train as we could taste victory. When we got to the C Terminal (of course Southwest was in the last terminal), Brett went to fill up our water bottles and I went to the gate (thankfully the second one from the entrance and not all the way at the end of the terminal).

Step three…get to the plane…done. Well, not quite. We were the last 2 seats to board our very full plane with a sizable standby list. In less than 5 minutes Southwest was going to give Brett’s seat away. While I tried to call his cell, the gate agent looked at me and said, “This can’t be right.”

“What?” I asked.

“It says you checked your bags at 9:41am and it’s now 10:00 am.”

“Yep”, I said as I noticed Brett sprinting over. “That sounds about right. We only made it here because of TSA Pre-Check.” And with that, Brett, Eleanor, and I walked on the plane, found two separate seats, and started our crazy travel adventures…miraculously on time.