Anyone who has ever traveled by airplane has wished there was a faster way to get through security. It just seems like so much wasted time (not to mention mildly degrading), as you have to remove your shoes, belt and jacket while somehow simultaneously trying to get your laptop and toiletries out of your bag as fast as you can so as not to hold up the line. Sometimes you can even get stuck in a TSA line for hours, which is not a great way to start a trip.
TSA PreCheck can reduce your waiting time quite significantly. Here is everything you need to know about TSA PreCheck, so you can decide if it is right for you.
Waiting Time Is Just 5 Minutes
According to the official TSA website, signing up for TSA PreCheck can cut your waiting time from hours down to just a couple minutes. In January 2019, 94 percent of travelers with TSA PreCheck only had to wait five minutes or less when they went through the line instead.
You Don't Have to Remove Anything
The reason why people are able to move through security quicker with TSA PreCheck is because, if you have been approved for the program, you don't have to remove your shoes, belt, light jacket or other clothing before going through the checkpoint. You also don't have to remove liquids from your bag, and you don't have to take out your laptop or other electronics before putting your bag on the conveyor belt. This saves time and stress, not just for the traveler, but for the TSA workers as well.
TSA PreCheck Is Available in Many Places ... but Not Everywhere
TSA PreCheck has been available since 2013. As of January 2019, it is available at 200 different airports in the United States, and offers service to customers from 65 different airlines. Some of these airlines include United Airlines, Canada Air and British Airways, as well as several other well-known airlines. Unfortunately, though, not every airport has a special line for PreCheck-qualified passengers, meaning that, even if you are a member, you will still have to wait. This coverage gets even spottier when you go outside of the U.S. where the TSA is not in charge of the security lines, which is one of the reasons why more people have not jumped on the TSA PreCheck bandwagon yet. If you are curious whether your usual airport offers these shorter lines, you can see the full list of participating airlines and airports at TSA.gov.
The Price Can Be a Pro or a Con
The price of becoming approved for TSA PreCheck is $85 for five years. The time you save could be well-worth the cost if you travel frequently and use the airlines on the approved list. But for some people, this is $85 spent for little to nothing. Often travelers find that TSA PreCheck is not offered by the airline or at the airport they are traveling through, so they end up paying for something they only use a time or two before it expires.
How the Application Process Works
According to the TSA and other websites, the application process for TSA PreCheck is fairly straightforward. You simply fill out an application online (which is said to only take five minutes), then schedule an in-person interview at an enrollment center that specializes in pre-checking passengers. This interview consists of a background check and fingerprinting, as well as a general meet-and-greet session to make sure that you are a trustworthy traveler. The whole thing usually takes around 10 minutes. Once you are approved, you will receive a "known traveler number," which you put in each time you book a flight, and you will be good to go. When you get to the airport, just follow the signs for the TSA PreCheck line and display your passport/identification card and ticket and you should speed right on through.