What Is TSA Precheck and How Do I Get It?
If you flew regularly before September 11th, 2001, you probably remember that going through airport security used to be a relatively quick, hassle-free endeavor.
Those days are long gone, unfortunately, and passing through the security gate of today involves an all-too-familiar rigmarole of long lines, invasive body scans and pat-downs by grabby TSA employees, the removal of shoes, belts, and layers of clothing, and arguing over the difference between a gallon and quart-sized toiletries bag.
For anyone who travels often, this can get to be a maddening process, but happily there is new program rolling out that will help expedite the ordeal – TSA Pre✓ (or if you’re Googling it, TSA Precheck).
What Is It?
Available in an increasing number of domestic checkpoints, TSA Precheck was implemented to help low-risk travelers move through the airport faster. That means no long lines, no removing your belt, shoes, or laptop from your carry-on, and an all-around better travel experience.
It’s available to any U.S. citizen or resident who has a clean criminal record, and it comes automatically with any U.S. Trusted Travel program. So as long as you’ve got a social security number and you’re not an ex-con, you’re eligible.
How Do You Get It?
After paying an $85 fee and submitting your personal information at an application center (which can be found both inside and out of the airport), you have to schedule a brief interview. This Q&A session involves getting fingerprinted, providing proof of citizenship, and answering a few questions about your personal life and travel habits.
How Does It Work?
Once you arrive at the airport with your TSA Pre✓ clearance, head straight to the designated security lane. There you simply show your boarding pass and ID to an appointed checker, and you’re on your way.
It’s that easy. Leave your shoes and belt on. Leave your laptop and toiletries bag in your carry-on. Forget about getting stuck behind a bunch of travel novices who slow up the whole process by not knowing the security measures.
At this point the TSA Pre✓ program has been active for about a year, and participants say that it can speed things up dramatically, making it possible to reduce the time between arriving at the airport to reaching your gate to a mere ten minutes.
While the program isn’t at every airport and is sometimes closed at participating hubs, it is expanding rapidly with an average of 3,500 new applications on a daily basis.
So if you travel on a regular basis, have a clean rap sheet, and you’re sick of security lines, the TSA Pre✓ is for you.