Airline travel is regarded as being among the fastest and safest ways to travel long distances, but it comes with its own set of inconveniences. The Travel Security Administration (TSA) was created as an immediate response to the attacks made on September, 11th 2001, and is the organization immediately charged with protecting the public during airline travel. One of the most visible components of the TSA’s involvement in your travel safety is their pre-boarding screening process, which typically involves inspecting your carry-on luggage, removing your shoes, and passing through long lines in a security screening area prior to boarding your flight. While this process has been cited as invaluable to maintaining the safety of travelers, many agree that it is time-consuming and inconvenient. The TSA PreCheck program was designed to eliminate some of that hassle for travelers who have completed certain pre-requisites.
How PreCheck Works
The TSA PreCheck program works by having willing passengers agree to a background check and purchase a 5-year member in the program. By completing these extra measures you will have access to shorter security screening lines and less-invasive screening measures. PreCheck members will not need to remove their shoes, laptops, belts, or jackets during the screening process, and may experience wait times of as little as five minutes before being able to enter the terminal.
How to Apply
You can apply online through the TSA, or schedule an appointment at a TSA enrollment center to get started. During the application process you will need to provide your full legal name, place of birth and mailing address. You may be asked questions regarding your citizenship status, whether you have been convicted or plead guilty to certain felonies, or if you have ever been released from incarceration. You will also be required to provide a form of valid U.S. government-issued photo identification and proof of citizenship. After applying, you will need to conduct an in-person background check which will involve meeting with a TSA official and being fingerprinted.
Is PreCheck Right For Me?
The value of the PreCheck program will primarily revolve around how often you fly and how inconvenienced you feel by the current TSA screening policies. Many airlines suggest that travelers arrive at least two hours prior to their boarding time to avoid being delayed at a security checkpoint. The cost of the TSA PreCheck program is $85 USD at the time of this publication for a five-year membership. If you take just one flight per year, you can think of this as a $17 security fast pass for each year, which many may feel is a worthwhile investment to avoid long wait times and the hassle of having to have your personal belongings scanned and inspected prior to boarding. If you fly less-frequently than once per year, you may not see the value in purchasing a PreCheck program membership.
While the advanced screening measures utilized by the TSA are not likely to go away in the foreseeable future, those who are willing to undergo a background check and subscribe to the TSA’s PreCheck program may be able to lessen the burden of these screening measures.