Whether you’re flying for business or leisure, the benefits of signing up for TSA PreCheck are even more valuable in today’s travel climate, when you want to minimize the time you spend waiting in line.
If you’ve been through airport security, you’ve probably seen the dedicated lanes that the Transportation Security Administration provides for PreCheck passengers. They’re designed to move qualifying travelers through airport security quicker and easier, with less contact during the process.
The program is available when flying domestically and when departing from a U.S. airport to a foreign country, as well as connecting flights after returning to the United States. Currently, TSA PreCheck is in operation at more than 200 airports nationwide, including those in most major cities, with 73 participating airlines.
Since the first enrollment center opened in 2013, 10 million people have signed up for PreCheck. But that growth hasn’t limited the program’s effectiveness for airline travelers. In December, the TSA reported that it took PreCheck passengers less than five minutes to get through airport security.
As a PreCheck flier, you’ll find the security process much less stressful. You won’t have to remove your shoes, belt or light jacket at the checkpoint. You’ll also be able to keep your laptop, food and quart bag of liquid items in your carry-on. If you’re a parent or guardian traveling with children under 12, they can join you in the PreCheck lane.
To apply for PreCheck you can fill out a brief application online, then schedule an in-person appointment at any of more than 400 enrollment centers nationwide, many of which are located at airports. To manage the flow at the enrollment centers, walk-in visitors are discouraged.
The TSA is following health and safety guidelines designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, so you’ll need to wear a mask during your appointment. The in-person appointment takes about 10 minutes and includes fingerprinting for a background check. Go to tsa.gov for instructions on which documents you’ll need to bring with you.
Once your application is approved, you’ll receive a Known Traveler Number, which can be added to your airline reservation when you book a trip. The 5-year TSA PreCheck membership fee is $85.
If you’re a business traveler whose work takes you abroad, you should consider signing up for Global Entry. Also a federal program, it offers fliers all the benefits of TSA PreCheck plus expedited customs screening for travelers entering the United States. There are no paper forms, such as a customs declaration, to fill out when you arrive home. Global Entry travelers can use a kiosk to quickly clear immigration and customs. The membership fee is $100 for five years.
Some credit card companies and loyalty programs cover the TSA PreCheck membership fee as a benefit or allow members to use rewards points to pay for it, so that’s one money-saving option worth checking out.
For help navigating any travel plans, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through Travel Leaders/Fly Away Travel.