Is TSA Pre Worth It?

posted in: Random | 4

I Think So!

Have you ever been stuck in a long security line at an airport?  How about a line that is barely moving at all and you’re worried about missing your flight?  Most of us have experienced this at one time or another, while some of us experience this almost every time we are at an airport. Did you ever notice people going through a different line? A line that is shorter, quicker, and keeps moving…

Shorter Lines

Welcome to TSA Pre!  A few years ago I researched TSA Pre after someone recommended it to me.  I had noticed those lines before but didn’t know anything about TSA Pre and whether it was offered to the masses.  What I did know is that the lines seemed fairly empty with people breezing right past me in the stalled out regular security line. 

Apply Online

What I discovered was pretty simple.  You apply online at https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/ and pay the $85 fee. Then schedule a short interview at a nearby TSA Enrollment Center. You will need to provide several documents, a photo ID and a citizenship/immigration document, for the interview process. The TSA website provides you with what forms of these are accepted. They will do a background check and fingerprint you at that time as well.  Once this is complete, you will be notified within 2 – 3 weeks by mail if you are approved. However, you can check your status online and approval is often within days of the interview. The approval will include your Known Traveler Number (KTN). The mailed approval will be the only document with your KTN that you will receive. 

KTN Good for 5 Years

Once you have your KTN, you will add it to each flight reservation that you make. You will do this on the same screen that you put name of passenger information on new flight reservations. If you have a previously booked flight, you may need to contact the airline to get the KTN added or you can generally do that online if you have an account with that airline. The KTN approval is for 5 years and can be renewed for another $85.

TSA Pre

Now that you have your KTN, your boarding pass should include TSA Pre verbiage. So when you get to the airport on the day of your flight, just follow the signs for the TSA Pre line, which is generally next to the regular security line.  Just remember that sometimes there are unforeseen circumstances that may not allow for the TSA Pre to be offered on your flight.  I have never had this happen, but you never know.  Anyway, once you are at the security conveyor belt, you usually don’t have to:

  • Remove your shoes
  • Take out your laptop
  • Take out your liquids
  • Remove your belt
  • Take off your light jacket

This is what makes TSA Pre great! You are in and out of the security checkpoints in expedited time and off to your gate before you know it!

Departing Flights Nationwide

TSA Pre is currently offered at over 200 airports and 56 participating airlines nationwide. It is also good for departing flights to foreign countries.  However, if you travel internationally most of the time, you will want to apply for Global Entry, instead of TSA Pre.  Global Entry provides expedited customs processing while still giving you TSA Pre status within the United States.

Works Great!

I have had my KTN for a little over 2 years now and love it!  I enrolled first and then once I saw how well it worked, I made my husband sign up too.  That way when we travel together, we can both be in the same line. And let me tell you, I love being in the TSA Pre line!  It has saved me so much time and stress over these 2 years.  I will have it for as long as I qualify.  No question!

Happy Wandering!

 

4 Responses

  1. Sonja Durkee

    TSA Pre is definitely worth the time and effort it takes to sign up. However, I do think TSA needs to come up with a better way to process individuals like me who have metal body parts. When my husband, who is implant free and also has TSA Pre, and I travel together, we begin in the TSA Pre line. But he’s usually finished quite awhile before me. Here’s how it works… After having my i.d. and boarding pass checked and telling the first agent that I have metal body parts, I’m put in a different line than him (usually with people who don’t have TSA Pre). I’m directed to move to the line for the large cylindrical scanner, while those who don’t have implants, like my husband, can stay in the faster line for the smaller scanner. At this point, sometimes I’m required to take off my shoes and follow the same rules as those who don’t have TSA Pre. But the most annoying thing of all is that often my purse is already on the conveyer belt for the line with the small, faster scanner when I’m transferred over to the line with the larger scanner. And if the two scanners are quite a distance from each other (SFO is one airport that comes to mind), I get a little anxious when I can’t see or pick up my purse for awhile, and it sets at the end of the conveyer belt until I’m finished. This is especially irritating when I’m traveling alone and don’t have anyone who can keep an eye on it for me while I’m waiting for a female agent to do a body scan (after going through the big cylindrical scanner) and sometimes a hand swabbing for explosives. This can all take awhile. BUT, having TSA Pre still advances a person like me with metal implants through the line quicker initially, and usually ends up saving a considerable amount of time.

    • Ordinary Wanderer

      Hi Sonja! I appreciate you sharing your experience and bringing awareness to this issue with metal body parts. It is unfortunate and I can see why you would be frustrated. Perhaps people with metal body parts need to think carefully before investing in TSA Pre.

  2. Sonja Durkee

    Having TSA Pre’s is still a lot better than no TSA Pre. I just wish some airports would have a better system in place.

What are your thoughts?