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TSA PreCheck Program Benefits
The TSA PreCheck program is available to qualifying travelers through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This program provides pre-screened travelers with a variety of benefits, creating a more enjoyable flying experience. Through the trusted traveler program, passengers can breeze through security lanes without stopping to remove their personal belongings or outer layers of clothing.
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What is TSA PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening program for trusted U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who meet residency, citizenship and criminal background requirements. As part of this program, qualifying low-risk travelers who meet these requirements can get through airport security faster and without delay, as they will already be pre-screened and ready to fly.
However, travelers must first complete the TSA prescreen application process, undergo a background check and obtain a known traveler number (KTN) before they may benefit from this program. Once members obtain a KTN, they may use this information to expedite the screening process at certain TSA security checkpoints across the country.
While this trusted traveler program benefits qualifying passengers who wish to receive expedited screening when departing from the U.S., travelers must apply for a Global Entry membership if they wish to expedite the international screening process. With a valid Global Entry membership, travelers receive expedited screening when leaving and re-entering the United States.
If Global Entry members wish to use their PreCheck benefits as well, they must provide a KTN when booking their flight, as Global Entry, SENTRI and Nexus cards cannot be used to access PreCheck lanes.
Through the trusted traveler program, qualifying pre-screened members can pass through standard security lanes when flying through a participating airline.
While not all airlines participate in this program, most major airlines do, including the following:
- American Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Air Canada
- Virgin Atlantic
To make use of these program benefits, however, travelers must book their flights through one of the many participating airlines.
Learn more about the TSA PreCheck program in our comprehensive guide.
How does TSA PreCheck work?
After becoming a member of the known traveler program, passengers must provide their KTN whenever they make flight reservations, or they may enter this information into the airline's frequent flier profile. Once passengers provide this information, the TSA's Secure Flight System will verify their program eligibility to ensure that they are safe, low-risk passengers.
If passengers are eligible for these TSA PreCheck benefits, their membership status will be printed directly onto their boarding pass. Generally, travelers will find a PreCheck logo below the name on their boarding pass if they are eligible for expedited screening. If using a mobile boarding pass, the logo is typically located above the barcode.
At the airport, travelers must visit a TSA PreCheck line to present their boarding passes, as they will not be able to submit their TSA approval letter or traveler card as proof of their membership status. Then, the TSA will scan the boarding pass to verify whether passengers are eligible for expedited screening.
If travelers are eligible, they may enter the PreCheck lane to bypass standard TSA security lines and reduce their overall wait time. While these travelers still need to be screened at the airport, they usually pass through metal detectors rather than full-body scanners.
Moreover, trusted travelers may take advantage of these program benefits whenever they travel from the U.S. to a foreign country, if they fly through a participating airline and airport.
Additionally, these benefits are also available to travelers who need to board a domestic connecting flight once they return to the U.S. However, this travel program does not expedite customs processing. To expedite the customs process after returning to the U.S., a Global Entry membership is needed.
Find out more about how TSA PreCheck works in our in-depth guide.
How TSA PreCheck Benefits You
Members of the TSA pre approved traveling program receive a variety of benefits when they fly with participating airlines. Currently, 54 airlines and more than 200 U.S. airports participate in the program, making the traveling process quicker and more enjoyable.
94 percent of pre-approved TSA members wait less than five minutes when completing the airport screening process, as PreCheck lines tend to run more smoothly. Low-risk travelers can breeze through security without:
- Removing their shoes and belts.
- Removing jackets and other outer layers of clothing.
- Setting laptops and large electronic devices outside of their cases.
- Setting compliant liquid containers in a separate bag.
Travelers can keep these belongings with them, helping them to move through the line at a quicker pace. However, it is important to note that even pre-approved travelers are not guaranteed expedited screening, as members could be redirected to standard security lines at any time.
Moreover, some participating TSA PreCheck airlines include Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, JetBlue Airways, Spirit, United, Virgin Atlantic and World Atlantic. Participating TSA PreCheck airports include some of the biggest airports in the U.S., such as the following:
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- Denver International Airport (DEN)
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- McCarran International Airport (LAS)
However, many small- or mid-sized airports also participate in the program, including the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA).
Who can use my PreCheck benefits?
After becoming a TSA PreCheck member, certain accompanying family members may bypass standard security lines as well, if the approved traveler is present. For instance, children who are younger than 12 years of age may accompany parents or legal guardians through a TSA lane without obtaining their own membership.
However, non-approved spouses or other travelers who are 13 years of age or older must obtain their own membership if they wish to accompany another traveler to a PreCheck lane.