What is the TSA Pre-check?

On April 25, 2017, in Blog, by Karina Popa

The 911 attacks have prompted the US government to create the Transportation Security Administration (or TSA), which aims at developing policies that would protect transportation systems nationwide – such as airports, buses, mass transit systems and railroads. A notable outcome of these new policies is heightened security at airports, since TSA agents are fully responsible for screening every commercial passenger and luggage. If you have traveled through US airports in the last decade, you would perhaps recall the long and tiresome procedure of going through airport security. Part of the process is taking off the shoes and belts, going through a scanner and sorting, as well as limiting, the quantity of liquids you carry.

It is fortunate that TSA Pre-Check lets some low-risk travelers (including children 12 years and below) undergo a faster and more efficient screening process. Since it started in 2011, more than 55 million travelers have used TSA Pre-Check. Even though it was originally accessible only to frequent travelers of some airlines that applied for the program, the TSA Pre-Check application has been available to the general public since December 4, 2013.

Benefits and Extras

Perhaps the most significant perk offered by TSA Pre-Check is being able to avoid the usual slow-moving security lanes in exchange for an expedited lane, keeping you away from being frustrated and wasting time during the process. When passengers go through the TSA Pre-Check Lane, they do not have to remove their shoes, belts*, light jackets/outerwear, laptops and bags for liquids, among others. They still need to undergo random searches but the overall process is much faster than before.

* There are some exceptions like if they include metal parts; they have to be removed. The same applies when electronics are piled together.

Airlines and Locations that Provide TSA Pre-Check

At first, the TSA Pre-Check program was available at only 4 airports but now, it is provided at more than 160 US airports. Though it used to be offered only for domestic flights in the US, it now includes some international flights leaving US airports. At present, TSA Pre-Check aims to expand its coverage all the more in order that the airport security experience would improve for a larger group of passengers. Keep in mind, though, that there are some TSA Pre-check lanes that are not open 24/7 so make sure to plan ahead of time.

TSA Pre-Check Eligibility

You may be given an option to use TSA Pre-Check when you are a US citizen and an active privileged member of the partner airlines’ Frequent Flyer Programs. If you go for it, you will only be qualified to undergo TSA Pre-Check if you are travelling aboard that FFP’s aircraft. To qualify for TSA Pre-Check for each and every airline that offers the service, you should have a “Known Traveler Number” (KTN).

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