Going through security checkpoints can be dreadful and exhausting. Imagine an easier security checkpoint where you don’t need to go through the hassles of taking off your shoes or belt? A security checkpoint without long queues and waiting? The good news is you can get a fast and seamless airport security checkpoint with a TSA PreCheck!
In this article, we answer your questions: what TSA PreCheck is, the benefits of having one, and how to get it.
- What is A TSA Pre-check?
TSA PreCheck is a Trusted Traveler Program administered by the government through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a component of the Department of Homeland Security.
The aim of this program is to improve the process and speed of getting through immigration security and border checks. About 80 airlines and 200 domestic airports take part in the TSA PreCheck to provide an easier airport checkpoint process.
- Benefits of TSA Pre-Check
If you are a frequent flyer within the US, getting a TSA PreCheck membership can be a great way to save you from the hassles of airport security lines. The most obvious benefits of the TSA PreCheck Membership include:
- Easy Airport Checkpoint
A TSA PreCheck membership lets you go through airport security without the need to remove your shoes, belts, or liquids. Essentially, you won’t need to take out everything you’ve packed in your luggage to pass through the airport security line.
Note: Sometimes, members are randomly selected for traditional airport security screening. However, the time spent on this extra screening is still lesser compared to a non-TSA Precheck screening.
- Dedicated Security Line
With TSA, you get a dedicated security line which is usually shorter and moves faster. Also, procedures are limited, making security checks easier and less stressful.
- What is the Difference Between TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry?
Both TSA Precheck and Global Entry are Trusted Traveler Programs by the government. However, TSA PreCheck doesn’t cover international travel, while Global Entry does. Basically, Global Entry offers expedited screening upon entering the US from abroad, while TSA offers expedited screening on domestic travels. Global Entry membership also comes with a TSA PreCheck and offers screening for both domestic and international travel.
- How To Get TSA Pre-Check Membership
Here are some things you should know about applying for a TSA PreCheck membership:
The TSA is available to US citizens and permanent residents that are considere low risk. Additional requirements for the TSA PreCheck program include people who:
- Are not subject to any ongoing investigation
- Are allowed to enter the United States
- Do not have past criminal convictions
- Provide complete and truthful information during the application
- Have not violated any immigration or custom laws
- Pass the background check
People who fall in any of these categories are automatically disqualified from participating in the Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP).
To get started with the TSA PreCheck, you need to apply online on the TSA website and complete the questionnaire. You will have to provide information like your name, date of birth, and citizenship to assess your eligibility for the program. The whole online application should take less than 5 minutes to complete.
After your pre-approval online, proceed to schedule an interview at any of the 380+ enrollment centers. For the interview, you’ll need to provide identifying documents, including your government-issued photo identification and proof of citizenship.
The TSA interview takes up to 10 minutes. During the interview, you’ll be asked questions like:
- Why do you want to join the TSA PreCheck Program?
- How often do you travel/your travel history?
- Do you have any criminal history?
- Details about yourself like employment status?
During the interview, expect to have your photograph and fingerprints taken for processing. Also, you’ll need to verify your identification documents, so bring your passport, driver’s license, and any other form of identification. You’ll get a response within 2 to 3 weeks after your interview, and if approved, you will get a Known Traveler Number or KTN.
- Using Your Known Traveller Number For Flight Bookings
To use the TSA PreCheck lane at the airport, it’s crucial to add your KTN for your flight reservation. Most airlines will let you add this number online, or you can call the travel airline to add the number to your reservation.
Also, you can add your Known Traveler Number to your frequent flyer account so that it’s automatically included in your flight.
When you include your Known Traveler Number to your flight reservation, TSA PreCheck will be printed on your boarding pass and this is your ticket to get on the TSA security lanes.
- Traveling with Pre-Check
You can travel as a PreCheck member as long as you are flying with one of the participating airlines and into/out of a participating airport. You can check the TSA official website to confirm whether TSA PreCheck is offered by your intended airport or airline. If you are traveling with an airline or into an airport that isn’t a partner of this program, you won’t be able to use your TSA membership.
- Membership Perks
As a member of the TSA program, you get a designated airport screening lane which is often shorter and faster. Also, you don’t need to remove the following at the TSA PreCheck security line:
- Light jackets
- Electronics, e.g., Laptops
- 3-1-1 liquids
TSA PreCheck costs $85 for a five-year membership, equivalent to about $17 for a year. You will be required to pay this amount at your interview appointment by credit card, cash, money order, or company check. After the 5-year membership, you need to pay $70 for renewal.
There are also some ways to get a TSA PreCheck membership for free. Some of the options include:
- Credit Card Benefits
Some credit card companies can help offset the application cost of TSA PreCheck by refunding every 4 to 5 years.
- Military Benefits
Members of the US Armed Forces can receive the TSA PreCheck benefits by using the Department of Defense identification number as their Known Traveler Number.
- Can Kids Travel With Your TSA PreCheck?
Children of age 12 and under can join an adult who is a member of the TSA program on dedicated TSA PreCheck lanes. However, children over 12 will need to apply for their membership even if they are traveling with an adult with a membership card.
Also, TSA PreCheck benefits don’t pass down to your spouse, friends, or traveling partner. However, in some cases, the airline can pass the benefit to an entire reservation.
TSA PreCheck membership is a fast ticket to reduce the time it takes to get through airport security. If you travel often, it’s a good idea to get a TSA membership to enjoy expedited screening at airport security lines. All you need is to sign up online, schedule an appointment for an interview, and get your membership ID.