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It isn’t as bad as the no-fly list; but if you land on it, you can expect an unpleasant time when boarding your next flight.

That’s because, as a group, TSA screeners are obsessed with power. The more practical among them are attracted to the job because of the large government pension, elite medical benefits, and structured union work rules. But becoming a TSA officer is also a way to gain power over one’s fellow citizens.

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With little real oversight, the list of people forbidden from pre-check is at the whim of any officer who awoke on the wrong side of the bed.

On top of that, the TSA won’t even tell you if you’re on the list, as it’s a highly guarded secret. And the process to get removed from the pre-check disqualification list is difficult.

That being said, if you find yourself on the dreaded list, write an appeal to the TSA’s Risk Officer at If you’re part of the Global Entry program, you can also appeal to the Ombudsman of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at

My final piece of advice is to approach any TSA officer with a pleasant smile, even if he or she makes you mad. Never talk back, and keep your eyes lowered. And remember, it was probably worse in East Berlin before the wall came down.

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This commentary originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

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