Thoses of us who still remember travelling freely and without worry pre 9/11, who love to travel but hate the act of getting from Point A to Point B or C because of the great inconveniences of air travel today can do something to lessen the hassle and ease the burden... if ever so slightly. If you travel with any regularity, even if it's once a year, you ought to look into TSA Pre-check. I really had no idea it was an option for the non-business, non-frequent flyer like myself, but it is, and if you travel in or out of a major airport at least once a year, it would behoove you to do this. The beauty of the TSA Pre-check is that you get to skip those endlessly long lines and breeze through security. Think of it as your semi-private security screening, cutting down the airport wait time substantially. Instead of standing in those zig-zagging lines for an hour you get your very own line with nary a person ahead of you. AND, it gets better than that. When you qualify for your TSA Pre-check you DON'T have to remove your shoes, your computer, liquids, belts, and light jackets. Want to spend more time getting your coffee or a cocktail in the lounge? Get a Pre-Check. A survey taken in November of 2016, 96 percent of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes in a security line. (via Conde Nast Traveller)
It is important to note, however, that even with the TSA-Precheck, travelers are still subject to the 3 oz liquid rule So, if you're headed to sunny Florida, Hawaii or any other place tropical, you'll need to check your luggage if you plan on bringing your own sunscreen you'll need to check your suitcase.
How to Apply for a TSA Pre-Check:
Ok, it seriously cannot get any easier. It should be noted that if you have plans to fly you should make sure that you have applied to the process with enough advance time. It may take up to 45 days after the Interview for you to hear back and get clearance.
First log on and fill out all the material here. Once you've filled out all your information, you'll be directed to a site listing the various interviewing TSA Locations. Many will offer walk-in options, but I think it is best to set up an appointment.
How much does a TSA Pre-Check Cost?
The whole process is a mere $85 and I think that's money very well spent. Even if you travel just once or twice a year, a pre-check will save time not to mention alleviate the anxiety associated with air travel today.
I do want to note, however, that if you are traveling with children, those 12 and under may or may not be eligible to go through the Pre-Check with you. If you travel frequently you might want to consider getting your child or children pre-checked as well. If you're a family of 4 or more, do the costs outweigh the benefits? It really depends on how often you all travel together. Older children, 14 and up will most likely have to go through the regular checkpoint. What happens then? The attendant will take a look at your boarding pass and note that you are a qualified Pre-check member. You will still have to stand in line but you will get a special card identifying you as a Pre-check member and you won't need to take off your jacket, shoes, etc... unless you are asked to do so.
For everything you want to know about TSA Precheck, the 3-1-1 rule and travel safety in general, click here. You may want to double-check that your airline and airport do participate in this program.
Is Pre-Check the same as Global Entry?
Nope. Nope. Nope and Nope. Global entry is an altogether different process and that fee is $100. I do not travel abroad enough (yet!) to warrant spending that (yet!) For more on global entry, click here.