Why Everyone Should Be On The TSA List: The Perks Of Terrorist-Status

May 23, 2017 by

Why Everyone Should Be On The TSA List: The Perks Of Terrorist-Status

1. Terrorists go through security faster

I don’t even like to talk about this, lest it be perceived as a backhanded compliment to the TSA, or erode the martyr status I’ve earned as a jetsetting Caucasian on some stupid List. But here it is:

Being on The List gets you through security quicker.

There, I said it. I know I’m losing all my street cred here, and you’re retracting most of the tears you’ve shed on my behalf up to this point. But there it is.

This is how it works:

You know how at big airports, about half the time they have an added layer of TSA glancing at your boarding pass well before the ones at the podiums? This is a jackpot for the jetsetting terrorist. And what happens next is the closest I’ll ever come to velvet rope access at the Metric show.

The TSA-gangster sees my boarding pass, calls for backup, and escorts me past alllllll the more well-behaved travelers, past the podiums, past various other serfs and commoners, and right to the X-ray.

That’s great you paid $85 for TSA’s Pre-Check program so you can skip the lines. Now get a refund because my way is free.

This is how it works about half the time, making this inconsistent. That pre-podium TSA-check isn’t always there. But one can ensure this same outcome with one very cool trick. I mentioned this in a previous story, but it’s worth elucidating.

Disclaimer: This next trick requires an unhealthy level of slave-mentality. If you’re the kind of person who says “Thank you” to cops when they’re done pulling you over, this is your kind of move. It’s dangerously close to shining the plantation owner’s boots, but it works.

I learned this from a TSA agent a few months prior (in my under-appreciated suicide-sonnet “The TSA agent who knew my name before I told her” seen elsewhere in this blog), who gave me one valuable-yet-dehumanizing tip: When you get your boarding pass, bypass the line, find a TSA agent, show them you have the “SSSS”, and get ushered past everyone else, directly to the X-ray.

And it works.

Now, there’s not enough Stockholm Syndrome in the world that could inspire me to do this regularly. It amounts to waving your arms, pointing out you’re a threat, and tacitly requesting extra screening. Getting to the front of the line is pretty cool, but not as cool as dignity.

But in the interest of full-disclosure, there it is. My biggest secret. In many instances, I have it slightly better than the rest of you.

Take me off your martyr list if you will. Just revisit this subject when they read this story on the internet and put me on a different list: The one that starts with “No Fly.”

Am I a sell-out for exploiting this? Go ahead and talk it out. You know where I’ll be when you decide. (Hint: It’s called “At the gate 30 minutes before everyone else.”) Bye.

2. You get upgraded to First Class on international flights. Maybe.

All I can do here is lay the facts humbly at your feet, and let the evidence speak.

Here it is:

The only two times I have traveled internationally on The List (as of this writing), I have been inexplicably bumped to First Class.

Both times, it was on the return flight only. Both times, I was called to the desk at the gate and told with little fanfare and zero explanation that I have a new seat assignment. At this point, I was handed new boarding passes, and it wasn’t until I boarded the plane that I was aware I just got totally, massively hooked up.

As these were my first and only times in First Class, I’ll offer my review: Seriously gangster. Hot towels, cool music, and fruit. Lots of fruit.

I can’t explain why it happened, but it happened. Twice. Coincidence, or hidden perk of the Terrorist Watch List?

Let’s examine all possibilities:

  1. A rogue gate agent got bored, Googled my name, and decided I was cool.
  2. It was some gate agent’s appreciated yet weak attempt at flirting.
  3. It was the sheer randomness of the universe.
  4. It was somehow related to my convicted terrorist status.

Update: I flew internationally again since writing. No upgrade. Two out of three is still statistically curious.

Floating two theories: How putting terrorists in First Class might be in the interests of national security

Because I’m looking at the above list and am going with #4, let’s do some mental gymnastics and theorize how putting a national security threat into a First Class seat might make all of us safer.

It provides a better position to scrutinize the subject for suspicious activity

Huge seat, right at the front, in eye shot of flight attendants most of the flight. A First Class seat presents a problematic staging point for terrorist activity. In these seats, I couldn’t even text well after the “fasten seatbelt” light goes on like I normally do. Rule of thumb: If you can’t get away with texting, you probably can’t get away with assembling and detonating bombs.

The placating-effect of opulence

Let’s not dance around this one: Free socks and leg room are terrorist opiates. That hot towel can really take the fire out of whatever hijacking scheme you have plotted. As a neutralizing agent, who needs handcuffs when there are free headphones and a satellite radio Trip Hop station?

First Class really goes a long way towards engendering positive feelings towards the government.

For a few hours, I almost wanted to high-five the TSA.

Who knows

I’m not going to ruin a good thing by asking too many questions. After all, no one ever accused the TSA of making sense.

3. You become the most interesting person on the airplane.

Don’t get your hopes up and think that librarian-looking 28-year old across from you at the gate wants to talk. But there is a certain low-level kinship forged among people who share the same flight.

You’re in line together for 30 minutes at security. You sit around staring at each other for another hour at the gate. Everyone subjects everyone else to silent scrutiny, quickly forming a list of who they do and do not hope they are seated next to. Then that long, forced march to baggage claim. When it’s over, you’ve probably spent several hours with these people. Try to deny it, but they’re your tribe. I even know a girl who lost her virginity to an anonymous Irishman on an international flight. But by the end, chances are you haven’t talked to any of them.

Jetsetting terrorists don’t have this problem. I talk to people all the time. People see me pulled out of line and run through a TSA tornado at security and want to start a conversation about it. The TSA sets up “security audits” at the gate, and while everyone rolls their eyes, I say loud and proud: “It’s me. They’re doing this for me,” sparking more conversation. Cool rich guys in First Class grab my sleeve as I pass, asking “What was that about back there?”

You won’t dethrone the Dos Equis guy on a global scale, but you’ll definitely be the most interesting (wo)man on your plane.

In conclusion

Fellow Americans, introducing the TSA for the triple-win:

  1. They embarrass themselves, and further erode the public’s patience for their farcical agency.
  2. They drum up fear, and in a form of employment-alchemy, manufacture a need for their own jobs where that need didn’t exist before.
  3. We get to cut to the front of the line.

Oh, and they provoke that Long Island girl on my plane into asking me why the TSA singled me out, her being impressed with the answer, numbers being exchanged, and…. That’s another story.

Thanks, TSA.

-Jetsetting Terrorist

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1 Comment

  1. Scott Maxwell

    As for why they put you in first class — maybe that’s where the air marshal sits?

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