If you travel frequently, you have probably experienced your fair share of long lines and wait times at airports all over the country. The fact is that airports are sometimes jammed with too many people and it is just something you have to deal with!
Or is it? There is a way that you can avoid long lines and wait times, no matter where you fly. There is a program called the TSA precheck that allows you to bypass lines and get to your plane quickly. There is very little paperwork involved and it can save you hours of waiting to get through lines, especially on those busy travel days where you have to be at the airport hours before your plane departs. Here is some information on the program:
What is TSA Precheck?
The TSA Precheck program is one of five different trusted traveler programs that were created to help travelers move through airports with speed.
The program was created in 2011 and is run by the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration). Nearly 180 airports around the country are participants in the program, meaning that you will be able to save time no matter where you fly. If you are approved, you will be a member for five years, after which time you just need to reapply and join again.
What Are Some Benefits Of The Program?
The biggest benefit to joining the TSA Precheck program is that you will no longer have to wait in the regular lines when you are checking in.
Once you qualify, you will be given a nine-digit number referred to as the Known Traveler Number. This is your identifying number that you are a member of the program. It will automatically be included on your boarding pass, but you should always have a copy with you, so you can quickly give it to the screeners.
Once you have your number, you will be able to move through the screening line quicker.
Instead of standing in the line that snakes around the airport, you can move quickly to the front and go through your own screening station. Instead of having to take off your shoes and belt and remove your devices from your suitcase to put in a bin, you can just roll through the security check. You may still get scanned or selected for additional screening, but the process will be much quicker than in the regular line.
Who Qualifies For The Program?
All U.S. citizens are initially qualified for the program, although there are some restrictions.
You must pass a basic background check and you must not provide any false information on your application. Being honest is the best way to pass. The TSA will find out about any misleading information anyway, so there is no reason to be dishonest.
There are, however, several different things that can disqualify you from the program. Most criminal offenses in your past will automatically disqualify you, including possession of an unlawful weapon, fraud charges, robbery charges, and drug charges. If you are currently wanted or are involved in an ongoing investigation, you will also be disqualified.
Here is a complete list of all of the offenses that will disqualify you. If you are worried that you might not be able to qualify, take a look at the list to save yourself the time and money of applying.
How Do I Apply?
The process is fairly simple. You first fill out the application and wait for the background check to be completed. You will have to provide information such as name, date of birth, citizenship status, and other basic identifying characteristics.
Once you have passed the background check, you will need to make an appointment for an in-person interview. There are over 350 facilities in the United States that conduct such interviews, so it will not be hard to find one near you. During the interview, you will be asked some basic questions about your past. This is really just a chance for the interviewer to see whether you are telling the truth, so again, be honest. They will also ask you about your travels over the years and will require you to provide your fingerprint for identification.
Once you complete the interview, you will be notified about your program status. There is also an $85 fee.
The TSA Precheck Program is a great way to save time at airports all across the country. There are other time-saving programs you can apply for as well, that work all over the world.
Ella Woods works on airport security and is an avid traveler and travel writer when she is not on the job.