Predicting PreCheck odds and other travel questions answered

by The Washington Post
The Washington Post

The Washington Post’s travel writers and editors discuss your travel stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are some edited excerpts from a recent discussion:

Q: I fly maybe six to eight times a year (round trip) and in the past couple of years, I’ve almost always had PreCheck clearance on my boarding pass even though I’ve never signed up — including a flight last week even though I had read they were discontinuing pre-check for anyone not signed up. I am almost always flying on an itinerary with my husband who does have PreCheck and JetBlue mosaic status (he flies roundtrip out of and back to Boston Logan weekly almost exclusively on JetBlue). So I’m just curious if I’m getting the PreCheck because of his status or if I’m just the luckiest traveler in the world? No complaints either way. We love Jetblue and rarely have an issue with TSA or flying in and out of Boston generally.

A: My husband and I have experienced the same thing. I have PreCheck, but he doesn’t, and yet he keeps getting that status when we fly together. I think you and he have been lucky because the program does not allow non-PreCheck spouses to automatically qualify. And perhaps, by getting you used to the PreCheck line, there will be incentive to buy it once it’s no longer offered.
—  Carol Sottili

Q: I put a TSA-worthy lock on my suitcase, and when I arrived at my destination, it was gone. They didn’t even put it in my suitcase. Is this usual? I only fly about twice a year.

A: Not really. You should file a claim with the TSA. They should replace the locks.
— Christopher Elliott

Q: When is the best time of year to visit the Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona?

A: It has a high desert type of climate with wild swings in temps between day and night. Early September may be your best bet, when daytime highs are usually about 85 and nighttime 55. If you don’t mind colder nights, daytime highs in May don’t typically go above 75 or so.
— C.S.

Q: This may be a silly question, but does (hair) mousse count as a liquid/gel for 3-1-1 purposes? There’s no travel size, and I’ve had too many delayed/lost bags in the past to check mine anymore.

A: Yes, it does. And I have seen travel-size mousse; you can get it at most large pharmacy chains and cosmetic stores.
— C.S.

Q: I typically get PreCheck status on United when I travel for work out of Dulles Airport in Washington, although I haven’t formally registered. I am bringing my family later this week on an overseas flight from Dulles. Two questions: 1.) Will they (wife and kids) be likely to get PreCheck as well once we check in online; and 2.) if not, is there a possibility they still can come with me in the PreCheck line?

A: There is a good chance you won’t get it this time around. And no, your wife and children won’t be allowed to join you on the line unless they receive individual PreCheck clearances.
— C.S.

Q: I’m travelling to the West Coast next week and splurged a bit months ago and bought Virgin tickets as I’ve always loved flying with them. I bought the tickets and last flew with them before they were sold to Alaska. Think there will be any differences yet? If so what? And if not yet, do you think there will be in the future that would not justify paying a bit more for Virgin rather than United/Delta/etc.? Virgin was one of the truly great airline companies left.

A: I agree. I love flying on Virgin America and I believe there’s a chance it will continue to be a great airline. I’m told Alaska is considering keeping the brand, which means you’ll still get the same above-average service when you fly on Virgin. I think that would be terrific.
— C.S

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