With so much discussion going on about using No Fly lists for other purposes, I started thinking about a personal situation I had with being flagged while traveling.
It started off pretty innocent. I did the math and the summer sales to the Caribbean “cost” me less than traveling out to the beach here, both in money and stress.
I had top status and always cleared on vacation routes. I also lived near the airport. So when I did the math, it made sense to take day trips to the Caribbean during the summer. I could relax in first class on the way out and on the way back in, didn’t have to spend money on a hotel, and would enjoy cheaper drinks and food than I could here.
And it worked really well (aside from an almost cancelled flight on my way back one time–but that’s a story for another time). I flew out in the morning, hung out on the beach, got a tan, and flew back in the evening. Flawless plan.
One of my flights was to Jamaica, which has rum cream. Rum cream isn’t sold in the United States, so it was the perfect opportunity to pick some up for my dad. Since it isn’t sold in the USA, it also isn’t held to the same liquor limits as other alcohol. So I packed an empty suitcase to bring back the rum cream.
And I ended up getting a lot of questions about that, and explained mileage running and why I would jet set to an island for one day.
I got my dad his rum cream.
And the next time I traveled to the Caribbean I got SSSS on my boarding pass. And the next time I traveled to Mexico. And the next time. And the next time.
All my stuff got swabbed going through security. There was someone waiting at the gate for me in rubber gloves. All my stuff got unpacked 2-3 times in the airport (but luckily, I didn’t pack that much for my short trips).
I didn’t get flagged for my work trips.
I did some Googling around and while you can’t ever know anything for certain, apparently it’s suspicious to some people to fly between the US and the Caribbean/Mexico pretty often. Especially if you bring an empty suitcase.
Apparently, sometimes people transport illegal things in between those locations.
Soon after, I got my American Express Platinum Card. One of the benefits of this card is free Global Entry. I got authorized user cards for people in my family too, and they were also eligible for Global Entry.
So we all set up interviews together, and I was pretty nervous. I didn’t know what they were going to ask me and I was honestly thought I would get denied.
I was the first in the group to go in. And while I was in there, my family completed their interviews.
And I was in there for 30 minutes.
I warned my family that I might get denied. As time went on, they started getting more and more worried.
They are supposed to be 30 minutes long, but rarely are.
So what was going on in my room?
The computer froze while they were processing my application and the web cam wouldn’t take my photo. So IT was coming up to fix the computer.
I was asked what my next international trip was. I told him I was going to Paris with my mother. And that was it.
So then, for the next few times to the Caribbean and Mexico, I’d get SSSS on my way out. And then I’d just walk right back into the country through my Global Entry.
Maybe they thought I was the world’s dumbest drug smuggler and was smuggling the drugs TO the Caribbean.
Either way, it didn’t even hold up my Global Entry application. The SSSS eventually stopped showing up on my boarding pass.