When it comes to traveling by air, one of the most dreadful things is having to deal with everything that leads up to you actually getting to your terminal. Between waiting in long lines to check in and go through security, most travelers are doing everything they can to speed things along.
If you’re a frequent traveler who does all they can to make getting through the airport a quick and painless process, you might want want to look into joining the TSA PreCheck program, not to be confused with other trusted traveler programs for U.S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents like Clear or Global Entry, which aids in international travel.
Is TSA PreCheck Worth It? If you are a frequent flyer, TSA PreCheck is absolutely worth it.
Frequent travelers who are interested in joining the program will be required to pay a non-refundable application fee of $78 dollars and complete an in-person interview. The fee covers a 5-year membership and for TSA to conduct a background check and screen potential members.
After years of meaning to join TSA Pre-Check and it slipping lower and lower on my priority list, I finally took the plunge this summer and officially have my Known Travel ID number in hand. My husband has had TSA PreCheck for years, and I was tired of splitting up through the security line so he could beeline to the closest airport coffee shop or skip the hassle of security screening with our toddler.
As a frequent flyer myself, if I had known how simple the process was beforehand, I would have signed up years ago, but I guess we’re better late than never. Making A TSA PreCheck Appointment The online application process for TSA Pre-Check is simple.
Transportation Security Administration government website
, and click on “New Enrollment.” Check your eligibility, fill out the form, and make an appointment at your nearest enrollment center.
I made my appointment two weeks in advance at the Staples near my house, and while this location was simple to find and navigate, I have heard that many TSA PreCheck enrollment centers are in unassuming storefronts that can seem a bit, well, unassuming.
The In-Person Appointment When I arrived, and found the TSA PreCheck kiosk in the store, which happened to be a makeshift cubicle (pictured below).
Once escorted inside, I gave the worker my passport. He asked me a few questions about myself, including the city where I was born, my maiden name, and other identifying information. The in-person appointment includes fingerprinting, taking a photograph, and giving your signature.
The entire TSA Precheck application process — including making the appointment and the appointment itself — took less than 15 minutes, and all I needed was my passport. If you don’t have a passport, you can bring in other supporting documents to prove your identity and citizenship status, including your driver's license, federally-issued ID, and birth certificate. Your application will walk you through which documents you’ll need to bring with you.
Getting Your Known Traveler Number
Three days after my appointment, during a holiday weekend, no less, I received an email that my application was approved. At the time of publication, most applicants receive their Known Traveler Number (KTN) within three to five days, though some applications can take up to 60 days.
I added my KTN to an upcoming flight reservation and will report back with any issues as I use TSA PreCheck to get through airport security checkpoints for the first time. I look forward to the time-saving of avoiding regular security lines.
TSA PreCheck Fee Reimbursement
If you’re on the fence about TSA PreCheck membership or are worried about the cost, many rewards credit cards will pay for the fee in the form of a statement credit or reimbursement. Two of my current travel credit cards – the American Express Platinum card and the IHG One Rewards Premier – offer this perk.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a popular option among my friends as well. Other credit cards that offer this perk include travel cards from Bank of America, Capital One, Citi Bank, and MasterCard, as well as various airlines, from American Airlines and Delta to Southwest and United.
TSA PreCheck Benefits Once you’re a member of the TSA PreCheck program, the perks start rolling in. As of right now, more than 200 American airports and 85+ airlines are part of the program.
If you are a precheck passenger traveling with your family, children 12 and under are allowed to accompany an enrolled parent or guardian in the TSA PreCheck lanes without restriction, while children 13 to 17 may join enrolled adults when traveling on the same reservation and if the TSA PreCeck indicator appears on the child’s boarding pass.
The overall process of becoming a TSA PreCheck member is quick and easy, with more than 55 million travelers using the program since it began in 2013.
To find out what U.S. airports and airlines are part of the TSA PreCheck program and who’s eligible for this program, click here.
Tell us, do you have TSA PreCheck? Have you ever thought about joining the TSA PreCheck program? For more useful travel tips, check out how
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