Westchester Airport Has a Dedicated Opt Out Line. If You Can Find It.

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Last summer I flew through Westchester Airport (HPN) for the first time. I was traveling with Jeanne, and as always, we both opted out. Our experience is that usually two women opting out together really annoys them and whoever has the misfortune of being the second pat down bears the brunt of their unhappiness. This time was no exception.

By the time my turn came up the woman was clearly annoyed and curtly ran through the usual instructions. When she asked if I had any questions I asked if she had fresh gloves. She snapped out “of course”, but I wasn’t so sure. I’d seen her touching various surfaces in the area with those gloves as I’d been waiting. Still I decided not antagonize her and went along. And as you probably could guess, when she tested her gloves they tested positive for something.

So now I had to have a secondary screening. I’d had a very bad morning already and at this point I couldn’t stop tears of frustration and emotional exhaustion from filling my eyes. I’d like to think it was her guilt as much as my tears that changed the atmosphere, but for whatever reason they did.

As they started apologetically explaining the invasive nature of the secondary screening I’m sure I looked pretty traumatized. To the point that other passengers waiting  to go through the scanner were looking disapprovingly at the agent leading me to other screening area. Cause let’s face it, even on my best days I don’ t look like a terrorist.

They brought a different woman to conduct the screening (who put her gloves on in front of me) and sure enough, the second round went through with no problem. The first, surly, woman came over to give reasons why there might have been a false positive, but I think we both knew why…

So anyway, at that point I irrationally hated Westchester Airport and never wanted to go back which is why I was indifferent when Jeanne told me they now had a dedicated opt out line. But because of my earlier alarm clock troubles I had to book a last minute return flight departing there.

I optimistically arrive (early) for my 8am flight but see no dedicated line and figure it’s not open because there are so few people. I go through the usual line and announce that I need to opt out and am told I need to go to the first (roped off, closed looking line) if I want to opt out.

Once I made my way to the roped off area, a very friendly TSA agent tells me in the future I need to come to this area if I want to opt out. I explain I’m a first timer but he and the other woman (nicely) make further comments about the inconvenience to all of us about not doing the right lane initially. And how going through this lane ensures that you are within site of your luggage at all time. Oh well. 🙂

I mentioned they should have a sign, and apparently they do have a small one I didn’t see. Oops. The rest of the process went smoothly and I could see how much nicer having a dedicated opt out lane would be, especially during busy times. Wish more airports would offer them!

If you’re going through Westchester and want to opt out, stand in front of the first, probably closed, lane and let them know.


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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