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You can label this blog travel irony.

After months and months of waiting for the TSA to work its magic for pre-screening clearance I got two surprises Tuesday afternoon as I prepared to enter the security line at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Airport Security InspectionMonths earlier I had filed an application for Pre-Screening clearance, motivated by the sight of business travelers scooting through a security lane without delay.

I scanned my boarding pass from my iPhone.  The agent said, “You are good to go.”  Huzzah!  I made it!   I am now truly one of the traveling elite.  No more taking off my belt and shoes. No more pulling out my liquids and gels or taking off my coat, emptying my pockets, putting my computer in a plastic bin.  No more standing in endless lines behind confused amateur travelers who cannot seem to follow instructions.  My life just got easier.

When the agent gave me the green light to go to the Pre-Screened line, I naturally headed down the lane with no one in it, not the adjacent one that was crowded.   “No, wrong lane sir.”   What? You’re kidding me, right?

Sadly not; my old stomping grounds, the priority frequent flyer lane, had no one in line, no waiting at the screening tables.  The Pre-Screen lane, my new symbol of status and traveler’s privilege, was experiencing a traffic jam. 

One man, who was relegated as a mere priority lane traveler, was unpacked, undressed, through the security apparatus and dressed again before I even put my bags on the x-ray machine. 

So much for being expedited.  

If you love this bit of irony, then you will certainly appreciate the fact that, as I was standing in the expedited screening line waiting, I suddenly realized that the United terminal at DFW – my preferred airline at my home airport – is not eligible for expedited screening.  To be “expedited” I would have to enter security at terminal A or D, American gates, and then take the train to Terminal E.  To be perfectly honest, with the pending merger of American with the low-cost cutter US Airways, I would just as soon undress for United. 

Expedited screening. Oh what a feeling.