BY Andrew Colton/Editor and Publisher
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Turns out there’s no question about it. Yes, you can wear your Apple Watch through TSA security checkpoints nationwide.
I wondered what the official word was as I embarked on a quick day trip to the Northeast on Monday — my first trip with the highly coveted Apple Watch.
(Yes, I got up at 2:55a while on a business trip a few weeks ago to order the thing the second it became available. I will seek professional help at some point).
So watch on wrist in the PreCheck lane at Fort Lauderdale, I asked the checkpoint agent if I had to take it off. She looked at me like I was nuts — the way she likely looks at an 85 year old asking if his windbreaker has to come off.
“We don’t make people with Samsung watches take those off,” she said, very matter-of-factly. “So the Apple Watch can stay on too in my lane.”
For a minute, the PreCheck lane at FLL’s terminal 2 had the feeling of the United Nations. All smart watches are welcome. A sense of warmth came over me.
Bag on belt, I was feet away from entering the metal detector when it seemed she was changing her mind.
“Hey Trudy*,” she called out to another agent. “He can leave on his Apple Watch, right?”
“It’s a watch, right?” Trudy yelled back from the other side of the metal detector.
“Yes, it’s a smart watch,” the first agent responded.
I’m thinking to myself that I could have walked through five times by now and seen if the detector alarmed — but the agents are intent on citing TSA policy — all at 4:45 in the morning.
“Policy,” said Trudy, “is that watches don’t have to come off, so you can wear it.”
She smiled at me and summoned me through the detector.
I half expected Trudy would hit the ‘random’ button that generates the alarm beep (everyone knows there’s nothing random about it) but incredibly, nothing happened.
“See!” said Trudy. “You can keep it on!”
Trudy knows her policy.
The experience highlights one of the most impressive yet unsung features of the Apple Watch. It’s a tiny computer with 5gb of storage that doesn’t have enough metal inside to generate an alarm from an airport metal detector.
Traveling With The Apple Watch
I did not use the watch as a boarding pass. While I have used the watch’s ApplePay NFC functionality at Whole Foods — with incredible ease — I felt there was no need to be showy-offie while boarding an early morning flight. The iPhone app was just fine.
But the Apple Watch still excelled on this first travel-outing in three areas:
1. Information: Being able to glance at your wrist while airport walking to determine whether an email needs action is invaluable. An email from a client? You pull out your phone. Wife calling? You now know it by simply looking at your wrist. Gate change? No need to look at your phone screen. One of the 20 daily emails from JCrew? You learn the true value of what Apple calls a “glance” and move on. Maybe someday three shakes of your arm will auto-delete junk mail.
2. Fitness: You can easily walk a mile from one gate to another while changing planes at Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta. It’s fun to be able to watch the steps add up and see how the walking part of travel adds into your daily fitness goals. Earth shattering? No. But incentivizing to walk instead of taking the airport subway.
3. Battery life. I left my house at 3:15 in the morning — spent the day traveling and working — returned on a late night flight and got home at 1:30 am. That’s 22 hours of use with lots of emails, alerts, fitness tracking and time checking — and the battery still had 20 percent left when it returned to the charger. While some may have battery issues, my watch was the perfect travel companion and was still ready for work when I was more than ready to sleep.
Is the Apple Watch a must have? Probably not. Life changing? Not really. But it is a highly functional assistant that can be extremely helpful and always near by — even when walking through airport security.
*Trudy may or may not have been the TSA Agent’s name.[About The Author: Andrew Colton is a former network news correspondent who now runs a national litigation communication consultancy. His BocaNewsNow.com is viewed by an average of 100,000 visitors a month].