TSA PreCheck: Do I Need It?
TSA PreCheck was launched by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) two years ago. But what do you really know about it and is it worth paying for? Here’s our take on the good, the bad and the confusing.
You’ve likely seen the signs at airport security for TSA PreCheck, but do you really know what it is? We’ve broken down the basics so you can make an informed decision on this paid service.
According to TSA, PreCheck is an expedited security screening program connecting U.S. travelers with smarter security and a better air travel experience. In a nutshell, if you’re a low-risk passenger you have the ability to zip through security screening faster without removing your shoes, liquids, belts and jackets.
Where is PreCheck available?
Surprisingly to us it’s not available everywhere. As of the date of this blog post, it is available in 150 airports with 12 airlines participating. That list includes: Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, OneJet, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country, United Airlines, Virgin America and WestJet. See airport availability by state here.
What does it cost and how do I apply?
TSA PreCheck is $85 (non-refundable) and covers you for five years. You must pay by credit card, money order, company check or certified/cashier’s check. You can apply online or in person at any application center at the airport. Walk-ins are welcome or you can schedule an appointment.
Is it worth it?
If you’re a frequent traveler and do not want the hassle of waiting in long security lines, the answer is yes. However, according to The Points Guy, a leader and influencer in the industry of points, miles and travel in general, TSA announced in March 2015 that one million Americans were signed up for the program. For this reason, there could be some changes coming to the program’s convenience. If you’re a frequent flyer (but not a TSA PreCheck member) and have received the perk of expedited screening in the past that privilege could come to an end. With so many people enrolled in PreCheck, it could force other programs to no longer offer this perk to its loyal customers. “If you want guaranteed access to expedited security, you’ll have to actually enroll in TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or CLEAR,” according to the article. So it does seem signing up, for now, is worth the cost but keep in mind changes could be coming in the future.
Are you a member of TSA PreCheck? How has your experience been? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.