Is TSA PreCheck Right for You?

With full capacity on airline flights you might be noticing longer security lines at your favorite airports and wonder if you should enroll in the TSA PreCheck program.

Back in 2011 the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) instituted TSA PreCheck which allowed select travelers in select airline membership programs and others to receive expedited screening.  Since its inception, the program is now available in 200 airports on 37 airlines participating.  However while travelers sometimes get expedited screening without applying for TSA PreCheck, it is expected to be weaned out, allowing only those travelers who’ve applied to receive the status.

So should you pay the $85 fee and join the over 4 million travelers in the program?

Well, it depends on how much you travel and what type of travel you do.  Before you launch into the TSA PreCheck application process, you might want to use the Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Traveler Program selector tool that assists in identifying the best program offered by both TSA and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection program (CBP).  Check out the tool here.

There are four programs offered by the U.S. government to aid travelers in traversing the security checkpoints at airports and borders.

TSA PreCheck

 

TSA PreCheck is a program offered by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which allows eligible participants expedited screening at participating airports flying on participating airlines. Originally, this program was offered free of charge to select travelers enrolled in limited airline membership programs.  While some airline passengers are still randomly selected to receive the status at no cost, it is expected that as more travelers join the program, the option will be discontinued.

Quick items to know:

  • Program cost is $85 per person
  • You will be issued a Known Traveler Number (KTN)
  • Membership lasts for 5 years before it has to be renewed
  • You need to apply, provide fingerprints and have your ID verified
  • Children under 12 traveling with you can use the expedited line as well

Things to remember when using TSA PreCheck:

  • Adding your Known Traveler Number (KTN) to you frequent flyer profile online, does not impact pre-existing flight reservations
  • Your Known Traveler Number (KTN) needs to be present and submitted when a reservation is made
  • If you have a Known Traveler Number and it was input into the reservation but it doesn’t show on your boarding pass, contact the airline
  • TSA PreCheck is not guaranteed.  TSA security measures may limit the amount of TSA PreCheck assignments or opt to screen various individuals

For more information, please see our comparison chart by clicking here.

Here are some quick links to TSA PreCheck information:

Global Entry

Global Entry is a part of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) trusted traveler programs.  This program provides expedited processing through CBP airport and border checkpoints upon arrival into the U.S.  This option will give travelers coming into the U.S. from international destinations access to kiosks to scan valid passports to proceed through customs more efficiently and effectively.

Quick items to know:

  • Program costs $100 per person
  • Membership lasts for 5 years before it has to be renewed
  • You need to apply, be interviewed, provide fingerprints and have your ID verified
  • Anyone traveling with you, regardless of age must apply for the program to use expedited kiosks
  • Membership includes TSA PreCheck Benefits

For more helpful links for more information, please see our comparison chart by clicking here.

The NEXUS program

 

The NEXUS program, offered by CBP, allows eligible travelers expedited entry at airports and land checkpoints when entering the U.S. or Canada.  Participants will use NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada by air and Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States via participating Canadian airports.

Quick items to know:

  • Program costs $50 per person
  • Membership lasts for 5 years before it has to be renewed
  • You need to apply, be interviewed, provide fingerprints and have your ID verified
  • Anyone traveling with you, regardless of age must apply for the program to use the kiosk options
  • Membership includes Global Entry and TSA PreCheck Benefits for U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents

For more helpful links for more information, please see our comparison chart by clicking here.

SENTRI program

 

CBP’s Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) program is applicable for eligible travelers entering the U.S. from Mexico at land borders.

Quick items to know:

  • Program costs $122.25 per person
  • Membership lasts for 5 years before it has to be renewed
  • You need to apply, be interviewed, provide fingerprints and have your ID verified
  • Anyone traveling with you, regardless of age must apply for the program to use the kiosk options
  • Membership includes Global Entry and TSA PreCheck Benefits for U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents

For more helpful links for more information, please see our comparison chart by clicking here.