Ask any traveler about their travel pet peeves and many are definitely going to say standing in long lines. That’s why most frequent travelers have mastered the art of reducing wasted time by either not checking bags, getting TSA PreCheck, CLEAR or Global Entry and of course, earning elite status. That’s a lot of ground to cover but right now, we’re going to focus on all the things you need to know about TSA PreCheck, including how to get it fast. RELATED: 10 Airport Security Hacks Every Traveler Needs to Know
When TSA PreCheck originated in December 2013, it was one of the most desired Trusted Traveler programs by frequent fliers. It’s designed for low-risk travelers who agree to have a background check. TSA PreCheck is available when you depart from a U.S. airport. TSA PreCheck allows travelers to keep their shoes, jacket and belt on; laptops in its case; 3-1-1 compliant liquids in their bag. The application fee is $78 for 5 years.
Here are 5 more things you need to know about TSA PreCheck:
1. Sign up at Staples Stores
According to the TSA: “Most applicants receive approval notification in 3-5 days, though some applications can take up to 60 days.” One way to speed up the process is to sign up using the TSA’s new partnership with Staples stores. Here’s the website to search for a participating Staples store near you (just type your zip code in). Before going to Staples, begin enrollment online using the government website. There, be sure to look for “located inside Staples” to confirm you are selecting your desired store location.
2. Is TSA PreCheck Open? How to Find Out
Before you sign up to TSA PreCheck, you might want to make sure your home airport and or terminal (if flying from a major airport) has a TSA PreCheck lane and more importantly, the hours they are open. One of the biggest complaints from members is that sometimes TSA PreCheck lanes are closed. If you’re relying on a TSA PreCheck lane, log on to their website to see if the TSA PreCheck lane is open at the airport during the time you will be passing through. If it’s not, you should allow for more time.
3. What to Do if TSA PreCheck Isn’t Printed on Your Boarding Pass
Another common complaint I hear from readers is that the coveted TSA PreCheck words are not printed on their boarding pass. The main reason is usually because the traveler didn’t put their Known ID number in their profile for the airline they are flying. Another reason could be that TSA says that members don’t always get PreCheck privileges for safety reasons.
Once in a while, they will make you go through the regular line for a more thorough screening. But out of the hundreds or thousands of times I’ve gone through their security lanes, only maybe twice was it not printed on mine. If this happens to you, be sure to check with an airline agent at the check-in desk. And ask them to make sure to double-check that your known traveler number, your birth date, and the spelling of your name are inputted correctly. Then, have them reprint your boarding pass. If it still doesn’t give you the privilege, then this was one of those random times.
4. Get Global Entry or NEXUS instead
I always tell travelers that instead of signing up to TSA PreCheck, get Global Entry instead. It’s only $22 more and not only gives travelers expedited customs processing when entering the United States, they get TSA PreCheck for free. Just know Global Entry takes a lot longer to get approved for and you do need to attend an appointment in person. Since I travel to Canada often, my family (including my little kids) and I all have NEXUS, which costs $50 for five years and includes Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. But to get approved takes even longer and the appointments are only available in Canada or along the US/Canada border.
5. How to Get TSA PreCheck or Global Entry for free
If you have a premium credit card, chances are you can get either the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursed. Just check with your credit card company and pay for the fee with that card. If you don’t have a premium travel credit card, then check out this list of credit card issuers that offer the perk.
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