Airport security may be the biggest hassle travelers encounter, but TSA Pre-Check can transform the hassle into a streamlined process. While the program is open to all U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents, time-pressed business travelers can particularly benefit from the expedited process.
How to Get TSA Pre-Check
As long as you don’t have a criminal record and are considered a low-risk traveler, getting TSA Pre-Check is fairly easy. You apply, get approved, and then zip through airport security.
You can fill out an application online but then must schedule an in-person appointment at one of the pre-check application centers. You’ll need to bring a passport or driver’s license and birth certificate; you’ll also be fingerprinted.
The $85 fee is valid for five years, and you can pay with a credit card, money order, certified check or company check at the center. Your final step involves receiving your own personal Known Passenger Number (KPN), and you can review your Pre-Check status online at any time.
Use your KPN when booking flights and your Pre-Check status shows up on your boarding pass, which gets you into the expedited security line.
Why We Love TSA Pre-Check
Now that you know how to get TSA Pre-Check, you can dive into the reasons you or your company would want to invest in it.
Speeded-up screening process: Instead of waiting in the long, slow, snaking line to get through airport security, TSA Pre-Check lets you quickly move through the short, fast line for expedited screening.
More convenient screening process: With TSA Pre-Check, you don’t have to take off your shoes, belts, light jackets or fumble around pulling your laptop, liquids and other items out of your carry-on bag.
Widespread adoption: A dozen different airlines use the program, with expedited screening at more than 160 airports across the nation.
Superior to CLEAR: CLEAR is another program that aims to speed up the security process, but it’s nowhere near as convenient, reliable or cost-effective as TSA Pre-Check. Aspects that give CLEAR a thumb’s down include:
- Run by a private company rather than a government agency
- Costs much more than Pre-Check, with the annual rate more than double Pre-Check’s five-year rate
- Only available at a small handful of airports, compared to Pre-Check’s more than 160 airports
- May gets you to the front of the line, but you still need to take off your shoes, belts, jackets and fish your laptop and other stuff out of your carry-on
TSA Pre-Check is just one way your business travel can be fast, easy and hassle-free. Couple Pre-Check with equally hassle-free passport renewal and you’ll really be ready to roll.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.