Are you a frequent air traveler or fly occasionally?

You seen the TSA Pre-Check line is usually shorter or even empty at times compared to general TSA screening.

Those 55 million savvy travelers in the TSA Pre-Check program do not have to remove their shoes, belts and light jackets or remove laptop and liquids from carry on luggage. Currently, TSA Pre-Check is available at over 200 airports in the U.S. when you are a passenger on over 80 domestic or foreign airlines.

TSA Pre-Check airport signage Getty Images
TSA Pre-Check airport signage Getty Images

My daughter and her husband recently completed the process to join the TSA Pre-Check program and some aspects struck me as odd.  A little research reveals their experience and the routine was very easy.

No one likes to spend any longer in a security screening line than necessary, especially given the breakdowns in the air travel system nationwide this year.

The TSA Pre-Check Program is one step you can take to speed up your experience the next time you travel by air and has some other benefits I learned in compiling this report.

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To join TSA Pre-Check,  consider the non-refundable application fee of $78 dollars and how often you will benefit from the faster screening process over the five year membership period it covers.  The on-line renewal is $70 for a five-year period.  You will also have to undergo an in-person interview and TSA  will conduct a background check and screen your application.

Don't be intimidated by the interview, they are scheduled by appointment at a nearby Staples location.  Yes, the office supply store!

That is where you will have an appointment with a third party vendor, IDEMIA, who handles document verifications for TSA and the whole process takes just a few minutes.

Here is how to apply for TSA Pre-Check

Go to Transportation Security Administration government website, and click on the “New Enrollment" link.   Check your eligibility because you may not need TSA Pre-Check if you already have Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI clearance.  Otherwise, fill out a simple form, and make an appointment at your nearest enrollment center.

This will be in a Staples business supply office that may require a trip outside your immediate area

The interview questions will include  where you were born, yours or your mother's maiden name, and other types of information to establish identity. The applicant will be also give fingerprints and be photographed.

My daughter and son-in-law's appointments took under fifteen minutes combined.  The list of documents you need to bring to the appointment could include a passport. But if you don’t have one, other documents can be presented to prove identity and citizenship status, like your driver's license, federally-issued ID, and birth certificate. The  application process helps determine what to bring with you.

After your appointment and your TSA Pre-Check application is processed, you will receive your KTN or Known Traveler Number.

Your KTN can be entered on any flight reservations you make in the future and ties you into the TSA Pre-Check system.  You can even add it to any reservations for trips you already have made but have not yet taken.

Other Benefits of TSA Pre-Check

  • Some credit cards have rewards programs that will reimburse your TSA Pre-Check membership so look into this perk.
  • Children 12 and under are allowed to accompany any TSA Pre-Check enrolled parent or guardian in the TSA Pre-Check line
  • Children aged 13 to 17 can join enrolled adults in line if they are listed on the same reservation and if the TSA Pre-Ceck indicator appears on the child’s boarding pass.

Here is a link showing U.S. airports and airlines using TSA Pre-Check and program eligibility, click here.

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