If you fly a few times per year and want to skip the long airport lines, this is for you.
Imagine getting to arrive at the airport later, breeze through the security line and not have to spend time removing your jacket and shoes. This is your reality when you have TSA PreCheck. Here’s what you need to know to see if it’s right for you.
What is TSA PreCheck?
It's a program that allows low-risk travelers to enjoy shorter wait times and better service at airport security checkpoints. Eligible travelers skip the long line and instead ease through security without having to remove shoes, belts, liquids or laptops from carry-ons. Wait times are typically under 5 minutes and most U.S. airport locations offer PreCheck for domestic and international travel.
So, what's the catch? There is a cost to participate: $85 for a 5-year membership. There's also the option of adding Global Entry for $15 which allows you to expedite international customs when traveling back to the U.S.
Our Experience - Is it Worth it?
Justin started using TSA PreCheck in June.
"I never would have guessed how efficient and awesome this service would be. At first I was reluctant to pay the $85 but I fly about once per month and almost missed a flight because of long lines.
My first time using it was at Midway airport. I walked up without waiting and put my bag on the conveyor belt. I proceeded to walk through the metal detector without taking anything off. The whole process took literally less than a minute.
I now arrive to the airport about 20 minutes later than I normally would, which is especially helpful in my home airport of busy Atlanta. The only time I've noticed PreCheck to take a little longer is when security picks passengers at random to go through the PreCheck line. They seem to "know the drill" of no shoes, belts etc, so they remove them even though it isn't necessary.
I also opted for Global Entry, which I used recently traveling to the Dominican Republic. I simply checked in at the kiosk - scanned my passport, answered 5 questions that were all 'no', it took my picture and I was done. I also got to skip filling out a customs card and waiting in the immigration and customs queues when I returned to the U.S."
How to Apply
You can apply online directly through TSA: www.tsa.gov/precheck. (PreCheck gets you expedited airport security for $85. Global Entry gets you expedited immigration and PreCheck for $100.)
An online application takes about five minutes. You’ll then schedule a ten-minute appointment at any of the 380+ enrollment centers. The appointment will be in-person and includes a background check and fingerprinting. Once approved you can immediately start using PreCheck and are good to go for the next five years.