Air travel has certainly changed. Compared to pre-9/11, security at airports worldwide has dramatically increased, causing longer lines and frustrated passengers, many of whom travel regularly on business. When TSA Pre-Check was introduced in 2011, it was only an experiment. It rolled out completely in 2013 and is now in over 180 airports.
There are plenty of reasons why you should consider applying for TSA Pre-Check.
Benefits of TSA Pre-Check
TSA Pre-Check offers airline passengers an expedited screening process that includes several benefits including shorter lines and having few restrictions to abide by when going through security. This is a huge time saver whether you’re a frequent flyer or not. It doesn’t come free however so you have to justify how much air travel you plan to take over the coming five years.
The expedited line should always be shorter than the regular security lines. While sometimes it can get backed up, for the most part, passing through it is breeze. One reason is the fewer restrictions and hoops you don’t have to jump through.
For example, your shoes don’t need to come off and placed in the tub to be screened. The same goes for belts and light jackets. Your laptop can stay in its bag as well. Removing all of this is what causes the line to get backlogged to begin with.
Applying for TSA Pre-Check
It’s relatively painless to apply for TSA Pre-Check. The application is online here. There is an $85 application fee which is non-refundable. Once you apply online, you must have a face-to-face meeting at one of the TSA Enrollment Centers. You can check where the nearest center is here.
You want to make sure that the nearest airport to your home is participating. While there are over 180 airports in the program, you should check here to see that yours is one of them.
When you arrive for your appointment you will obviously need to provide some form of official identification such as a passport. The agent will take your fingerprints in order to complete the background check. You then pay the $85 and head home. It should only take a few moments.
You should receive the decision within a week, most likely by email. You can check your status online as well. You will be assigned a KTN, or “Known Traveler Number”. Once that number has been assigned to you, you will also receive a letter in the mail. Save that number, as that is what you will need when booking flights. It can be added to your Frequent Flyer account as well. You must enter it into your frequent flyer accounts. Make sure you always check that the KTN is added when you check your flight itinerary when making a flight reservation.
Global Entry vs. TSA Pre-check
If you travel internationally frequently, you should consider enrolling in the Global Entry program, which is a completely different program than TSA Pre-Check. It’s just $15 more and offers expedited screening, shorter lines and also expedited screening at Customs and Border Protection checkpoints when entering the U.S. For a current comparison chart, visit the Department of Homeland Security website comparison chart.