Using Secondary Screening to get through Airport Security Faster

I was reading this story which I found via BoingBoing about the security threat of wearing sunglasses when I noticed this:

… But surprisingly LeVonda did nothing even remotely antagonistic. In fact she let me get into the extra short special security line! This was a bonus! Instead of standing in the “general” line with the hundreds of non-sunglasses wearing rubes, I got to get into the fast lane!

This is an interesting point. I’ve been in the secondary screening line twice (long and boring story).

Most of the time the secondary screening line isn’t that much shorter but I’m willing to bet that at peak times you could get the TSA to flag you for secondary screening and shave 30 minutes off your commute time! This might be even more of a benefit at certain airports that have longer “security” lines.

Now the trick is to figure out how to qualify for secondary screening.

Apparently you can just ask for it! There’s a little known TSA regulation which states that if you decline to show ID you can request secondary screening:

“What’s shocking is that the judiciary is getting one story and the American people are getting another,” said Harrison to the judges referring to the little known policy that exempts passengers from showing ID to fly if they are willing to undergo secondary screening.

This is all thanks to the Gilmore vs Gonzales case where the govt. response was that you can in fact fly without ID but that it’s a secret regulation.

Of course it isn’t a perfect scenario. You should be allowed to fly without showing ID and without being searched (a violation of your fourth amendment rights) but it seems that for now at least it’s one or the other.


Secondary screening isn’t that bad if you go into it knowing you’re signing away your civil liberties. I blogged about this before and was more upset by the fact that the TSA employee opened my bag without my permission.

  1. I seem to meet the most interesting people in the secondary screening line, especially for some reason in Denver.

    Last time I was there I wound up in line in front of the actor Michael Clarke Duncan ( He said he gets tagged SSSS every time. He thinks it has to do with autograph-seeking TSA workers, but he didn’t seem to mind.


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