Ever get a call from a survey-taker, who, once he finds out you qualify for AARP membership, hangs up? American culture always has and always will be youth-obsessed, but now some of you mature citizens can get the last laugh as you sail through airport security.
And so can little kids. And so can the rest of you, if you fly often enough or can pay for the privilege.
As for middle-aged, once-a-year flyers who are watching their pennies, same old slog I'm afraid, though I do have some tips that will help. Let's see how security has changed, where you fit in, and how to make it as painless as possible.
Are you 75 or older? Terrific. If you fly out of Chicago O'Hare, Denver International, Orlando's MCO airport or Portland, Oregon, you get to keep your shoes on.
This pilot program for older travelers is part of what the Transportation Security Administration's Greg Soule tells me is the agency's "ongoing effort to move away from a one-size-fits-all security experience" and I think it's just great.
Besides keeping your Nikes on, you also get to keep your jacket on plus you're promised fewer pat-downs (or 'strip searches' to use the memorable phrase one elderly traveler employed while recalling her disastrous encounter with the TSA's hands-on approach). Now just so there are no misunderstandings, any and all obnoxious security measures could still be used on elderly travelers because the TSA likes to keep the bad guys guessing - but they will be minimized.
So don't even think about lying about your age (especially since your ID makes this a complete waste of time). If you're 75, be proud. Shout it from the rooftops, or at least at one of the four airports mentioned above, and I have no doubt these mature-traveler security measures will spread to many more airports in the coming months.
That's what happened last fall with the introduction of the then-new kids 12-and-under security system; it quickly spread to checkpoints across the country and now parents no longer have to stress out (and waste time) forcing uncooperative little feet back into tiny sneakers since kids can keep shoes on now too. I guess that video of a 6-year-old getting a pat-down really did stick in the craw of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood because once it went viral, things changed fast.