If you are a regular airline traveler, you may have seen the “Pre√” signs in the TSA checkpoint areas.
What is TSA PreCheck?
From the TSA website. “is one of several intelligence-driven, risk-based initiatives helping TSA move away from a one-size-fits-all model to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way.” What does this mean? The PreCheck program is a way to expedite security screening for individuals determined lower risk. The expedited security allows travelers who have been pre-screened to keep shoes and belts on, liquids and computers in the carry-on luggage and generally the line moves more quickly. The program has a randomness to it – even if approved for the program, you will be occasionally sent into the standard screening line.
Who Qualifies for TSA PreCheck?
In the early stages of the program, certain airlines higher level frequent flyers were pre-screened and had access to these lines. The program is now opening up to anyone who is willing to apply and go through the process that includes a background check and an interview. The Global Entry program is one of several programs allowing TSA PreCheck eligibility, and there is now a PreCheck specific program. Information about these programs are available on the TSA Website.
Is TSA PreCheck for you?
I have been using PreCheck for a year or so due to my airlines frequent flyer program, but when I traveled with my wife, she was not eligible. We recently both applied for the Global Entry program which entered her into the PreCheck program. Her first time using the program was over the very busy Thanksgiving travel weekend and it was worth it. Being able to quickly move through security at both departure airports saved considerable time and hassle.
How often do you travel? The Global Entry program is $100 for a five-year enrollment, and the PreCheck specific program is $85. These programs require the traveler to submit an application and go through a background check and interview process. A background check will be done, you will have an interview and your photo and fingerprints will be taken. The process takes about 30-60 minutes depending on if you have to wait. Not all airlines participate in the program and not all airports currently have PreCheck lanes. So, if your primary airport or the airports you visit on a regular basis do not have PreCheck lanes, the benefit may not outweigh the investment. Oh, and be ready for a few dirty looks as you walk past the long security lines.
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