How to Survive Dealing With TSA At The Airport (and One Key Travel Tip)

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I’m in an Uber to Fort Lauderdale airport as I write this. Uber says my ETA is 7 minutes. My flight begins boarding in 25 minutes. 

I have TSA Pre Check and only a carry-on, so passing through security will be quick. I’ll arrive at the gate just as Group 1 gets called to get on the plane. 

Perfect timing, right? Not for me. 

I feel a bit of anxiety cutting things this close, especially when a third party that I don’t control — an Uber driver — is involved. I took too long leaving the house today; the plan was to leave a half hour earlier than I actually did. I like hanging in the airport for 90 minutes before boarding a flight. 

Not because I love airports — because I like being early. 

In my basketball days, I trained in empty gyms not because I rented out facilities — but because I showed up at the gym’s opening time. I’m still up before the sun every day now; habits are hard to break (especially when you don’t want to). 


I walked up to the TSA Pre-Check line at FLL (I much prefer MIA, but there weren’t any suitable flights for my schedule). A pleasant Black man in a neat white shirt walked up and asked me if I was there for Pre-Check. 


“Oh, it’s closed.” 

He said it with an energy of niceness and helpfulness that belied that he was not a government employee. Government employees at the airport generally aren’t pleasant. 

The man — Daniel — asked if I traveled often. In typical Dre fashion, I asked him what he meant by “often.” 

“5 or more times per year.” 


“Oh, man, have you used CLEAR? Come on— I’ll have you through here in 60 seconds.” 

In a smoothly-spoken statement, Daniel let me know that CLEAR was offering a free 30-day trial, and that he would have me through security and to my gate quickly. 

I accepted. 

The CLEAR process really was easy. Daniel expertly chatted me up a bit by asking if I were a basketball player and where I played. The CLEAR scanner logged my eyes, fingerprints and face, scanned my ID and put a credit card on file. 

Daniel quickly and smoothly explained that with CLEAR, I’d simply scan my eyes and fingerprints and be through security without any of the hassles that burdened other peasant travelers (my wording, not his). The trial is 30 days free, and $119/year if I choose to keep it. Family members get a discount if I refer them. 

It really was as easy as he’d explained, though I did still have to put my bags through the x-ray stuff (I’ll get to that in a moment). 

Daniel and his CLEAR cohorts were wise opportunists; if TSA was open I wouldn’t have even talked to him. I complimented Daniel on his sales skills and he mentioned more than once that I should rate him 10 stars across the board (presumably on the “rate our service” email that’s probably in my inbox right now). He also told me that he’s the company’s #1 performing salesperson. I believe him. 

CLEAR got themselves a new customer. 


TSA Precheck being closed (another strike against FLL), I had to go through the “regular” process with my carry on bags. I was allowed to keep my shoes on, but both my carry on and personal items were “flagged” by security. Turns out it was my packed laptop and iPad, which don’t need to be removed when using Pre-Check. 

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems the security belt workers always look extra hard at the x-ray machine when they see me standing there waiting for my stuff. 

I suppose the presence of the TSA has served in providing peace of mind to travelers post-9/11 (if you’re old enough, remember when you could just walk up to the gate unencumbered?) and it has created jobs for those who work there. 

But dammit if too many of their workers don’t come off as generally unpleasant and not happy to be at work. Many of them seem to derive their pleasure from inconveniencing travelers. 

Good thing for Daniel and CLEAR. 

If you haven’t yet claimed your free copy of The Mirror Of Motivation, it’s the first book of mine you should read. Why? Because it lays the foundation of the first Work On Your Game principle: Discipline (the subtitle is, “The Self-Guide To Self-Discipline”). 

Get yours here: