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TSA Pre-Check Expedited Screening – Should You Sign-up for It?

TSA Pre Boarding Pass Sample

Tired of standing in the long TSA lines while trying to rush to the gate to catch your flight?  TSA has launched a program allowing travelers to register and be recognized during the screening process and expedite the entire experience.  Let Panda Travel ®, a long time Hawaii travel agent, give you some insight to this program.

When you qualify for this, there will be an indicator on your boarding pass alerting the TSA agent checking your ID that you are PreCheck eligible.

Eligible participants use dedicated TSA Pre✓™ lanes at participating airports for screening benefits which could include no longer removing the following items:

  • Shoes
  • 3-1-1 compliant bag from carry-on
  • Laptop from bag
  • Light outerwear/jacket
  • Belt

As of right now only a few airlines are set up to use this service at approximately 97 airports.  They are as follows:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin America

These designated lines can also be used for international flights as long as the airline is participates in the program.  Also, any passengers under the age of 12 traveling with an eligible adult may use the PreCheck line.  As of right now, any children under the age of 12 do not need to remove their shoes anyway.

How do you sign up?  Initially, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines will invite some of their frequent flyers, based on TSA criteria, to opt-in through the airline’s system. Participating airlines have contacted eligible frequent travelers with an invitation to opt-in. Once the passenger opts in, the airline identifies the individual as a participant when submitting the passenger reservation information to TSA’s Secure Flight system. Later this year, Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin America plan to invite eligible frequent fliers to opt-in to TSA Pre✓™, so what that means is that at this time Hawaiian and Virgin America passengers who are enrolled in a CBP Trusted Traveler program or have a Known Traveler Number are eligible to participate.

Don’t have membership with any of these carriers, don’t fret. TSA is announcing plans to implement a TSA Pre✓™ application process. The TSA Pre✓™ fee-based application process will allow U.S. citizens the opportunity to apply for expedited screening without a passport.

When available, the application will be a two-step process:

  1. Fill out an online application.
  2. Verify identity and provide fingerprints at a TSA Pre✓™ enrollment center.

Enrollment fee will be approximately $85 enrollment fee which can be paid online or at an enrollment center. There is a five-year term of eligibility, after which members will need to re-apply. TSA expects the vetting process to take approximately 2 to 3 weeks. A U.S. passport is not required to enroll.  Applicants receive a confirmation letter via US mail. Approved applicants are issued a “Known Traveler Number” to be used when booking  their travel reservations. Passengers may also enter their KTN to their frequent flyer airline profiles, where it is stored for future reservations.

For the frequent traveler or families traveling with children children, the fee is rather inexpensive considering the 5 year term and may be worth not having to take your shoes and coats off at the airport.  If you travel maybe once or twice a year and don’t mind waiting in the long lines, it may not be worth the extra bucks to enroll in this program.


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