By Marcia Weldon
I travel a lot internationally for work. I have used Global Entry and TSA PreCheck since their inception,
I admit I’m spoiled. I don’t like to wait in long lines when I come back to the United States from a foreign country and because of my Global Entry status, I no longer have to do so. I don’t take my shoes off (most times) or remove my laptop when I go through security in the U.S. because of TSA PreCheck. Best of all, some credit card or loyalty programs pay for some of all of the cost.
But, if you’re an infrequent traveler, and don’t want to spend the money, are these services worth it? This post will introduce you to TSA PreCheck (aka TSA Pre✓®). In another post, we discuss Global Entry.
TSA PreCheck – This service cost $85 and lasts for 5 years. If $85 seems expensive, think of it as only $17 per year. PreCheck only works in the United States and when crossing the border to Canada if flying on Air Canada. The TSA reports that in October 2017, 97% of users waited less than 5 minutes in line. In my experience, the lines in some airports are much longer. Five million people currently use the services. Click here to see which airports participate.
Only U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and nationals can use it.You must undergo a background check, fingerprint process, and ten-minute interview in person at an authorized location. We encourage all Nomads4Life members to have a passport, but the good news is, if you don’t have one yet, you can still apply.
If you’re interested, apply as quickly as possible because you may wait a few weeks for an interview. Anyone of any age can apply for TSA Pre✓® . However, family members ages 12 and under traveling with an eligible parent or guardian with a TSA Pre✓® indicator on their boarding pass can participate in expedited screening. Travelers 13 and older who do not have a TSA Pre✓® boarding pass must go through standard security lanes or apply as individuals.
Pros– You don’t need to take off your shoes when going through security unless you activate an alarm, you don’t need to remove your laptop or liquids, and you can keep on belts and light jackets.
Cons- Some people may find the cost too high if they don’t travel frequently and don’t mind waiting in line. Also, if you’re traveling with someone who doesn’t have TSA PreCheck, you may come out of security at a different time. Finally, if you have a customs violation, criminal record or pending charges, you may not qualify.
How do I enroll? Apply online. Make sure that you use the name on your official identification (drivers license, passport). They must match exactly, If you change your name due to marriage or divorce, you must change it with TSA as well.
Am I guaranteed to have PreCheck on all of my U.S. flights once approved?– I now get PreCheck on every flight, but in the beginning, that wasn’t the case. Remember, not every airport or airline participates in the program. Check your boarding pass before you get to the airport (if you can) and look for SAPRECHK, TSA PRE, or TSA Pre✓®.
Does TSA notify the airlines the airlines once I am approved? No. Once you receive your approval, you will get a Known Traveler Number (KTN). If you belong to a frequent flyer program with an airline, go into your account settings and add it. Even if you don’t have a frequent flyer program, if you make airline reservations online, look for the section that asks for KTN or Known Traveler Number and add it to your reservation.
Once you have PreCheck, you’ll never want to go through a regular security line again. Trust me, if you’re late to the airport, you will appreciate it even more. If you’re still not sure whether TSA PreCheck makes sense, the U.S. government has compiled information to help you decide in this handy chart.