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TSA Precheck Line

TSA Precheck: The Ins and Outs

If you're like most people, you hate going through TSA security at the airport. The long lines, the intrusive body scanners, and the hassle of having to remove your shoes and belt can make traveling a real pain. But what if there was a way to skip all that? Believe it or not, there is: TSA Precheck. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about TSA Precheck: what it is, how it works, and whether or not it's worth signing up for.

What is TSA Precheck?

TSA Precheck is a program run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that allows low-risk travelers to go through a faster, more convenient security screening process at participating airports. TSA Precheck members can keep their shoes and belts on, and they don't have to remove laptops or liquids from their carry-on bags. TSA Precheck is available at more than 200 airports across the United States.

How does TSA Precheck work?

TSA Precheck works like this: when you're booking a flight, you'll be given the option to add your Known Traveler Number (KTN), which is assigned to you by the TSA after approval, to your airline ticket. When you check in for your flight, your boarding pass will indicate that you have TSA Precheck.  This means your airline reservation is successfully associated with your KTN.  You can't go through the expedited security screening lines unless your physical or digital boarding pass indicates you have TSA Precheck.

PRO TIP: We've found on some airlines that you have to have a frequently flyer number (or equivalent) with that airline in order for the TSA Precheck to show on your boarding pass.

Here's where we've seen TSA Precheck on boarding passes:

American Airlines: "TSA PRE" graphic in the upper left hand corner under your name.

American Airlines Boarding Pass

Delta Airlines: "TSA PRECHK" in the upper left hand corner under your name.

Southwest Airlines: "TSA PRE" in upper left hand corner above your name. 

Southwest Airlines Boarding Pass


Who qualifies for TSA Precheck?

To qualify for TSA Precheck, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident, and you must have a valid passport or green card. You also cannot have any serious criminal convictions on your record. In addition, you must submit an application to the TSA and pay a non-refundable application fee.

What are the benefits of TSA Precheck?

The biggest benefit of TSA Precheck is that it saves you time. With TSA Precheck, you don't have to remove your shoes or belt, and you can keep your laptop in your bag. TSA Precheck also allows you to keep your liquids and gels in your carry-on bag, which means you don't have to waste time packing them into a quart-sized bag.

Another benefit of TSA Precheck is that it's available at more than 200 airports across the United States. That means you can use TSA Precheck no matter where you're traveling.

TSA Precheck is also a good option for families traveling with small children. With TSA Precheck, you can use the family lane at security, which is a huge time-saver.

Do all family members need TSA Precheck?

No, all family members do not need TSA Precheck to use the family lane. One TSA Precheck member can bring up to three children under 18 through the TSA Precheck line.

Can my spouse go through TSA Precheck with me?

Yes, your spouse can go through TSA Precheck expedited screening lines with you if they have TSA Precheck. If they don't have TSA Precheck, they'll need to use a different line at security.

How much does TSA Precheck cost?

TSA Precheck application fee is $85 which gives you access to the TSA Precheck line for five years. That works out to about $17 per year, which is a pretty small price to pay for the convenience of TSA Precheck.

How do you get TSA Precheck for free?

There are a few ways to get TSA Precheck for free. Some credit cards, such as a few American Express Business Cards, Capital One Venture Cards, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige, and many others offer TSA Precheck as a benefit to cardholders.  You'll want to check with your bank to determine if your credit card is eligible for the TSA Precheck statement credit.

Where can you apply for TSA Precheck?

There are two ways to get TSA Precheck: you can apply for it online or in person at a TSA Precheck enrollment center.

When you apply for TSA Precheck, you'll need to provide some personal information, such as your name, date of birth, and address along with some supporting documentation.  See the TSA website for a complete list of what you'll need to provide.  You'll also need to submit a non refundable application fee of $85.

Once you've submitted your application, the TSA will conduct a background check. If you're approved, you'll be issued a Known Traveler Number (KTN), which you can use when booking flights.

How long does it take to get approved for TSA Precheck?

According to the TSA:

Most applicants are approved in 3 to 5 business days, but it can take up to 90 days for approval.

In my own experience, my wife and son were approved within 7 days, but it took close to 30 days for mine to be approved.  

Is TSA Precheck linked to your passport?

No, TSA Precheck is not linked to your passport. However, you will need to provide your KTN (TSA Precheck number) when you're booking a flight.

Do I need to reapply for TSA Precheck every five years?

Yes, you will need to reapply for TSA Precheck every five years. The TSA will send you a notification when it's time to renew your TSA Precheck membership.

PRO TIP: Just like passports, it's much easier to renew TSA Precheck before it expires than after it lapses. You'll need to go through the whole application process again if you decide not to renew it for a few years.

So, Is it worth getting TSA Precheck?

YES!  Even if you fly a few times per year or frequently travel during major US holidays, TSA Precheck is definitely worth the cost to receive expedited screening. The time and hassle you'll save by being able to go through a faster, more convenient security screening process will quickly outweigh the cost of membership.

As always, check the TSA website for the latest information on the TSA Precheck program.

While we do our best to keep our articles up to date with the latest information at the time of publication, we sometimes miss changes to the TSA Precheck program.

Visit the TSA website for the most up-to-date information regarding the TSA Precheck program.


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