international travel

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Man leaves his partner at TSA PreCheck, sparking huge debate about relationship etiquette

Many couples find themselves in this dilemma while traveling but who's in the wrong?

Representative Image from Canva

Who needs the 'bird test' when you have the TSO PreCheck' test?

First, there was the “Two Beers and a Puppy Test” that could help determine if a relationship was meant to last. Then, the “bird test.” And now, we have a relationship litmus test that has zero animal associations, but might be the most telling of all.

In a post published on March 20, a man sought out advice on one of Reddit’s most popular forums, "Am I the A**hole," to see if he had been in the wrong for leaving his girlfriend behind in the regular airport security line while he cruised through the TSA Precheck line.

His predicament, and the heated debate that followed, brought up a common moral dilemma amongst couples: who's actually being the selfish one?

For context: the man explained that he and his girlfriend were heading to Paris from New York for vacation.

To make international travel a little less of a headache, the boyfriend encouraged his girlfriend to enroll in the Global Entry program, which includes TSA PreCheck—meaning a shorter, much faster moving security check line.

"I thought this would be a great way for us both to avoid long lines at TSA," he wrote. "I even started the application for her, and all she had to do was finish it."

However the girlfriend never finished the application. So when their travel day arrived, she remained stuck in the regular line while he could go through the TSA Precheck.

“For the beginning part of our trip, she was mad at me for this," he recalled.

AITA for using TSA Precheck while my girlfriend went through the regular line?
byu/gdaddy3991 inAmItheAsshole

The man wondered if he was somehow in the wrong, even though he had tried to make the process of getting Global Entry easy for his girlfriend, so they could both enjoy the perks.

However, many agreed that the boyfriend was absolute in the right, and felt like the girlfriend’s anger was unjustified.

"What happened was a result of her own decision," one person wrote. "If she’s happy to go through the regular TSA line, that’s fine. There’s no need for you to suffer because of her bad decision. This was entirely foreseeable when she declined to complete the Global Entry process. There’s no way she should hold her own lack of planning against you.”

Another added, “also, if you go through the regular line when you have Precheck, you’re wasting EVERYONE’S time!”

There were even a few couples who were equally mismatched when it came to prechecks, but it never caused a rift in the relationship.

One person shared, “I ALWAYS use my precheck line and [my husband] has never had a problem with it. I’m not going to take my shoes off, take my laptop and liquids out, etc just because I’d keep him company in the line! That’s insane. If anything, sometimes I take his electronics with me through precheck so he doesn’t need to take them out. I end up waiting for him on the other side anyways, but I use that time to use the restroom and fill up my water bottle. I don’t see the issue here.”

“My spouse has global entry and I don’t. We always split up for security check. This is a nonissue," commented another.

And yet, it wasn’t completely one sided.

One person noted that while the OP didn’t necessarily do anything wrong, they could empathize with the girlfriend, saying, "splitting up on the first part of your holiday is a bit of a shame.”

Another questioned the boyfriends true motivations:

“You could make a point and teach her a lesson, or you could have a happy start to your trip. You picked the former but I don’t see how you could [have] expected her to be anything but unhappy about it.”

While we may never reach a fully unanimous opinion on this, experts seem to agree that separating at pre-check doesn’t have to spoil the romance, especially when handled properly (having a drink or snack ready for the later partner vs. gloating, for example).

Of course, in this man’s case, it sounds like he did try to think of his partner, even if his efforts weren’t appreciated. And that’s partially why most folks were on his side. Clearly one instance like this doesn’t fully diagnose a relationship, but it’s easy to see how little obstacles—especially while traveling together—can offer valuable insights into what’s working…and what’s not.