My "day" trip to Sacramento became a two-day trip. Preparing to leave, I attempted to pre-board by printing out an advance boarding ticket prior to heading off to Sacramento International Airport, this time returning to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California.
This didn't work for me, but worked for my business partner, whose flight i had booked separately from mine to a different airport on a credit card with my name on it.
Upon arriving in Sacramento, the Southwest kiosk check-in machine would print a boarding pass, but one with the dreaded code at the bottom meaning you will receive a special screening.
I received a full pat down, by a male screener. While the screener appeared to be very thorough and by the book (verbatim it would seem), it was the most intrusive search I have ever experienced.
All of my carry-on electronics were rescreened for bomb residue. I politely asked if I could speak to someone about how to get off the list, or at least understand it better. This is where it gets confusing.
I was given a number to call for the TSA Public Affairs office, which turns out to be a media line for reporting emergency events to TSA.
I went back to the TSA station, and the supervisor was gone. However, the other TSA staff said I had the "right" number and were of no additional help, nor did they attempt to call the pager number I was given to confirm my report. One officer did look through a huge file cabinet, but could not give me a phone number.
It seems to me crazy and incredible that a TSA supervisor of about 15 agents cannot produce a telephone number. The man at the file cabinet told me it is the airline that is flagging me. I replied, "But the names are given to them by the government," to which he replied that they just implement the airline's list of people to be screened. I felt like I was in a Douglas Adams novel.
Giving up the pointless discussion, I went back to the gate and called the Public Affairs number referred to me from the voice mail and left a message with "Amy".
Upon handing my ticket to the Southwest agent, I did realize my first name was spelled "Wiliam", missing one "l".
Now sitting on the plane, I wonder about what Amy will tell me if she calls me back tomorrow.
The TSA Watchlist adventure continues.