Hate to wait, love to travel? TSA PreCheck might be just the thing for you to gain more time relaxing and having fun by shrugging off the long lines going through airport security. If you dread dealing with security everytime your fly or just hate waiting in line, then you’ll probably be interested in this program.
So let’s take a moment to examine what PreCheck is, how you apply for it, and if it’s right choice for you.
What Is PreCheck?
PreCheck (or “Pre✓“ as its likely to be seen on signage at airports) is a program run by the Transport Security Administration that allows eligible, low-risk travelers to “jump the line” for expedited screenings at airport checkpoints. It’s available at 200 participating U.S. airports and with 42 airlines for most domestic and international flights. Currently, there are more than 5 million people enrolled in PreCheck. In November 2017, 93% of enrolled travelers were able to clear security in less than five minutes.
Expedited screenings mean those enrolled do not have to take off their shoes, belts or light outerwear at checkpoints and can leave their laptops, liquids, and gels in their bags. They are not subjected to body scanner x-ray machines either.
How Do You Apply?
To join PreCheck you need to fill out an online application at tsa.gov/precheck. The application process is straightforward with no off the wall questions. You’ll then need to schedule a short in-person appointment at one of the nearly 400 enrollment centers where you’ll be fingerprinted and submit to a brief background check. After that, you should receive written notification within a couple of weeks. A five-year PreCheck membership costs $85 and can be paid with most major credit cards.
Is It Right for You?
If you fly a lot, PreCheck can be a game changer in terms time on your feet waiting at airports and the fee to join would be a minimal price to pay for the convenience. It should be noted that PreCheck membership does not guarantee expedited screenings whenever you go through security. Some travel industry experts recommend applying for the slightly more expensive ($100 for five years) and more comprehensive Global Entry program in addition to or instead of PreCheck to save time by bypassing customs and immigration checkpoints at airports. But maybe an explanation of Global Entry deserves a post in its own right.
Are you enrolled in TSA PreCheck? We’d love to hear about your experience.