The TSA Pre-Check program started in December 2013. I had saw the signs for quite a while because I travel often for work. And, I had received random picks to go through TSA Pre-Check lines at Chicago Midway Airport in 2014 which was so convenient and the line went fast. Because of these trips, I had considered applying but never did.
The TSA lines at my home airport, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport are always slow and hard to get through in a timely manner. I will admit that I do not arrive the recommended two hours ahead of my flight. In fact, I am doing good to make it with an hour. But, I never have any issues except in Cleveland. In Summer of 2015, I almost missed a flight (I was there early this time) and that prompted me to take the plunge and fill out my TSA Pre Check application.
What is TSA Pre-Check?
TSA Pre Check is a program that allows you to go through a special line at the airport terminal. When you go through the security line, you do not have to remove your shoes, belt or light jackets. You also don’t have to take out your laptop or liquids bag. It is what I remember going through security before 9/11!
How does it work?
Step 1: You submit an online application and schedule your appointment at one of over 380 enrollment centers.
Step 2: You have a quick appointment at the enrollment center that will include a background check and fingerprinting. At that time, you will pay for fee of $85 which is good for five years.
Step 3: Once they look over your information and background check, you will be issues a KTN (Known Traveler Number) and you will be able to use the TSA Pre-Check line.
Are there any drawbacks or exceptions?
Yes. While it is a nationwide program, not all airports are included. 180+ airports are included and you can check to see if the airports you fly are on the list. Some airlines, such as Spirit or Frontier are not on the TSA Pre-Check list. That being said, I did read that both of these airlines are approved and their passengers will be able to use the TSA Pre-Check lines once their online systems are updated.
I also had a couple instances at airports that close their TSA Pre-Check lines early. In those cases, I had to remove my liquids and laptop from my bag but was allowed to wear my shows through the screening machine.
Should I apply for TSA Pre Check?
This only you can decide based on how much you travel. If you are a casual traveler flying a couple times a year, it may not make sense. For U.S. business travel, I think it is a must and highly recommend the service. If you travel internationally, I would look into the Global Entry program.
For additional questions, I recommend looking over the TSA Pre- Check FAQ! Are you TSA Pre Check approved? If so, how do you like it. If not, will you apply?