What is TSA PreCheck and How Do I Get it?

TSA Precheck is a government program that approves ‘low risk’ travels so they can receive expedited screening at security. Almost all major airports in the United States, 156 to be exact, have designated lanes for TSA PreCheck passengers.

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The benefits, according to tsa.gov, are that you don’t have to remove these items when going through security:

  • Belt
  • Shoes
  • Light outerwear/jacket
  • 3-1-1 compliant bag and laptop from carry-on (I personally don’t take out my laptop at all and it is fine)

The other most obvious benefit is that PreCheck has a designated security line which is generally quicker, that is always a good thing!

 

Does this work with all airlines? Not all, but most! Another reason to avoid Spirit, Allegiant, and Frontier (as if you needed one)
It works with these airlines:

•Air Canada
•Alaska Airlines
•American Airlines
•Delta Air Lines
•Hawaiian Airlines
•JetBlue Airways
•Southwest Airlines
•Sun Country Airlines
•United Airlines
•US Airways

•Virgin America

 

 

Is it free? No, it costs $85. It is good for 5 years. There are a few credit cards that will reimburse your $85 application fee. These cards are “premium” cards with high annual fees, but it is a good perk if you want one of these credit cards anyways:

• Amex Platinum
• Citi Thank You Prestige
• Citi American Airlines Executive

 

 

 

What is the process to get it?
You must apply for the TSA precheck and meet these requirements. Once you submit your application it will be manually reviewed and you will either be approved or denied. No refunds here folks, this is the federal government after all.

Once approved you will be asked to schedule an in-person visit at one of the enrollment centers. Almost every major airport has an enrollment center. You will have a quick 5-10 minute interview and they will fingerprint you. No rubber glove checks, fortunately.

Once they give you the rubber approval stamp in-person, they will present you with a Known-Traveler-Number (KTN). That number is your “PreCheck” number. When you are purchasing a flight it will ask for this number around the same time you are putting in your DOB. Once you purchase the ticket, that is all you have to do. When you print out your boarding pass it will have a little logo for PreCheck on the ticket.

 

Who is this good for? If you only fly once or twice a year this may not be worth the trouble. It costs $85 and you have to allocate time to visit an enrollment center. If you fly more than 5 times a year I would definitely recommend it. If you are the type of person that shows up to the airport at the last minute, this could save you by getting you through security faster. My favorite perk is that you don’t have to take your shoes off, what a hassle and how nasty, right?

 

There are a few other ways to get a KTN, or PreCheck number. If you get approved for SENTRI or Global Entry, which speed up international screening, you will also receive a Known-Traveler-Number for PreCheck on domestic flights. Think of it as a 2 for 1. Global entry is only $100 (yes only $15 more) and that will allow you to go straight to a kiosk when you are entering the customs area after international travel. You do not have to wait in line and talk to a CBP (Customs) agent. Aww too bad. When coming back into the country you will just walk straight to a kiosk, put your passport face down, declare any items, put your hand on the scanner and GO!

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