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Slate’s Christina Cauterucci has a sad: Her wife has TSA Precheck and she doesn’t

January 5, 2020
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Slate staff writer Christina Cauterucci takes time off from mourning over “revenge-porn victim” California Democratic Rep. Katie Hill’s abrupt resignation from Congress and hailing the Democrats’ new abortion-till-birth policy stance to address a pressing problem in which the personal has become the political:
Her brand-new wife, Deb, has TSA Precheck and she doesn’t.
Or at least didn’t until just recently.

[I]f you and your romantic partner have different statuses, the airport can be much more than a series of trivial degradations one must endure at the start of a vacation. For some mixed-Precheck-status couples, it’s become a crucible—a test of loyalty, a spotlight on income or lifestyle differences, or a reminder that, in a relationship, one party’s personal choices almost always affect the other. A long-awaited getaway can easily turn fraught when it begins with this minor dilemma: Should a Precheck member take her rightful place among the elite in the shorter security line, even if it means leaving her spouse behind?

There’s no clear right or wrong answer to this question. On one hand, it makes no sense for the Precheck partner to suffer through a more invasive security screening just to spend a few more minutes of quality time with her spouse in a longer line. On the other hand, what is a spouse but a designated travel companion on this journey we call life? And unless a Precheck boyfriend is willing to full-on leave his girlfriend at the airport, he’s not getting anywhere faster, in the end. Why leave her alone just to wait for her on the other side?

And believe me, for Christina and Deb, it was just awful:

She tells me that I’ve occasionally made “puppy-dog eyes and pouty faces” when she’s left me with the hoi polloi at the security checkpoint…

[E]very flight felt like a tiny reminder of our income disparity. In addition to the Precheck thing, I was younger and working in a much less lucrative field than she was. Some years, she’d have status on United and we’d get an upgrade to Economy Plus, the extra legroom sumptuously wasted on our short frames. I was always the grateful tagalong, never the proud provider. Going on vacation didn’t just mean splitting up at airport security. It meant either staying in cheap accommodations that fit my budget, or a nicer place that she’d have to subsidize—something she’d do happily when she was feeling flush, but which would leave me feeling slightly guilty.

So–whom to blame for this airborne status hierarchy?

Real or imagined, Precheck status does create a social division. It’s easy to laugh at the absurdity of the stratification of the airport—the tiers named for precious metals, the endless levels of boarding priority—but those divisions can nudge couples into real-life disputes.

Oh–here’s something to blame: capitalism!

The sophisticated globe-trotters with disposable income line up over here, the poors and the hicks over there. I didn’t mind being part of the latter group until I started traveling with someone whose boarding pass placed her with the former….You’ve got to hand it to a government-run surveillance program that can seem, in a certain light, like a marker of social cachet.

Airline status levels are nothing more than corporate gimmicks, customer loyalty programs designed to keep passengers from taking their business to whichever airline has the cheapest tickets. It may seem bizarre, and a little sad, that these frequent-buyer punch cards could have such power….But in the broader, dehumanizing context of air travel—with its body scans, Snowpiercer-like class segregation, and occasional acts of violence to remove passengers from oversold flights—it’s easy to see how a difference in status could surface existing points of tension in a relationship, especially if one person consistently gets better treatment than the other on trips they’re taking as a pair.

My take: OK, Christina, just cough up the $85 the TSA wants so Deb won’t get under your fingernails about the pouty face.

Which you did, as you say. But maybe there’s still a chance you can sue someone. Or something.

Update: Thanks, Glenn Reynolds!

Posted by Charlotte Allen

From → Uncategorized

8 Comments
  1. Bandmeeting permalink

    Congratulations, you’ve managed to come up with a story that is so completely moronic I don’t even know where to start. So I won’t. Wait, what’s the point of commenting then?

    Sorry Christina, life is full of hierarchies. That’s just how it goes. I am coincidentally in an A330 over the Atlantic as I type this. That’s correct, I’m using a typewriter!

    Boarding priorities? Last on the plane wins. Why sit on a plane any longer that you have to unless you are sitting in the pointy end. Then it’s fun. But Christina dislikes those people.

    Alas, I am in economy but I forgot to get pissed off about it. Gotta get better at that.

  2. victorerimita permalink

    Her entire “education” has been focused on whining and bitching about every imaginable thing, and glorifying the whining by laying a dime store Marxist narrative over it.

  3. old guy permalink

    so my daughter did not have it when we came back from a trip and she spent a couple of hours on a line – She learned and now has global entry, $100 and 5 years. I think they could afford the small price and stop whinning

  4. docweasel permalink

    Sorry, I’m still struck by what a stupid time we are living in that 2 women can get married. Lesbians used to be cool, now they are just annoying, whinging bints.

  5. bobby b permalink

    She actually would get into the precheck line and leave her partner in the line from hell?

    This will not be a long-lasting relationship.

  6. Oh, how will you go on with life?

  7. John permalink

    Obviously the spouse in the slow lane should that the PreChek spouse take the fast lane and relax, and should do so without even a hint of complaint or resentment. If they are committed to the point of marriage, it should be obvious that one should be happy to sacrifice for the other, so that the good for the whole is maximized. The sacrificing spouse should be absolutely confident that when the shoe is on the other foot, the favor will be returned.

    The fact that this woman is already pouty and resentful is a very bad sign. It shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what marriage is all about. I give the whole thing 2 years, tops.

  8. UH1H CE permalink

    How sad it must be to be a liberal. They are always upset about something. They strike me as the type of person who always says “not too bad” when asked how they are or how was their meal. Never a good day or dinner. Unfortunately for the content among us, their solution is never to look within, but always to restrict the rights of everyone else until we are as miserable as they.

    and, bobby: They rarely are long lasting.

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