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TSA Pre-Check Still Blows My Mind

By March 27, 2013 December 10th, 2013 8 Comments

TSA Pre-Check To The Rescue

I know I talk about TSA Pre-Check almost every month, but I know there are Readers who still are putting off getting it, so I thought I would share my most recent experience.

Last week, my Brother and I were flying American Airlines out of LaGuardia at 6AM and there was a monster security line.

I don’t know what it is about early morning flights but even at O’Hare, the TSA just never has enough people working so there is always just a huge line.

The line for non-Elites (aka normal people) was at least 1 hour and literally stretched around the hallway.

The line for AA Elites was around 30 minutes because they had to get into the normal security queue once they got their IDs checked.

The photo below was taken from the Elite line and is just the line to get IDs checked. As you can kind of see, it is a complete zoo!

Since I have TSA Pre-Check, I asked the lady in red where the Pre-Check line was. She directed me to it and since there wasn’t anyone else in the Pre-Check line, we literally walked to the front of the ID and Boarding Pass checkpoint and got to cut 75 people in the normal and Elite lines in the process!

I always feel kind of bad when I travel because my travel companions normally don’t have TSA Pre-Check. In this case, my Brother was with me and he doesn’t have Pre-Check.

I wasn’t going to have him wait in line by himself, so we both went into the Pre-Check line.

When we reached the front of the line, the Agent checked my ID and scanned my Boarding Pass to see if I was Pre-Check eligible that day (I have never not been). I was eligible as usual, so I went to the Pre-Check security line that is reserved only for Pre-Checked passengers which means NO LINE!

Since my Brother was behind me, the Agent assumed he had TSA Pre-Check, so she scanned his Boarding Pass.

Of course, he doesn’t have TSA Pre-Check, so his Boarding Pass wasn’t authorized for the Pre-Check line, so instead he just got to cut everyone and go into the regular line!

TSA Pre-Check isn’t like Elite Status, where it says on your Boarding Pass that you are an Elite.

The only way the Agents know if you are Pre-Check eligible is when they scan your Boarding Pass and it says you can go to the special Pre-Check line. If you don’t have Pre-Check or aren’t eligible that day, then you just get to go through regular security.

Therefore if you are traveling with people who don’t have TSA Pre-Check, bring them along with you into the TSA Pre-Check line. They won’t qualify for Pre-Check, but at a minimum, they will get to cut the rest of the line and save you from having to wait around if they had stayed in the normal line.

How To Get TSA Pre-Check

I have written about TSA Pre-Check many times before, but basically if you pay $100 and sign up for Global Entry, TSA Pre-Check is a free added benefit.

Even if you don’t travel Internationally and have no use for Global Entry (which allows for expedited Customs), you should sign up for Global Entry because that is the way you get TSA Pre-Check!

Link To Global Entry Website

Remember Global Entry is valid for 5 years!

If you have or plan to get an AMEX Platinum, AMEX will cover the $100 Global Entry Fee, which in part helps cover the $450 annual fee!

I ended up paying the $100 out of pocket because it was before I had my AMEX Platinum, so I will probably just let my Brother use my $100 credit.

He flies maybe once a year but after seeing me whiz through security without having to take my computer, shoes, belt, or liquids out, he was convinced it was well worth the $100 investment.

The online application for Global Entry takes about 30 minutes to fill out and then you have to go to the Airport and get finger printed, BUT if you already have a flight planned then just kill 2 birds with 1 stone and schedule the interview before you fly out!

Recap

Global Entry / TSA Pre-Check is literally the best $100 I have ever spent on travel and it amazes me more people don’t take advantage of it.

Outside of making a video of me going through TSA Pre-Check in less than 1 minute (which I am seriously contemplating), it is very difficult to quantify in words how amazing TSA Pre-Check is.

Even if you only fly a few times a year (or even once a year), it still makes sense to get Global Entry / TSA Pre-Check, because it is valid for 5 years! I can guarantee that the time you spend waiting in normal Airport Security Lines & regular Customs over the next 5 years will be far greater than the 30 minutes you spend filling out the Global Entry application.

-Parag

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8 Comments

  • SAM says:

    are you saying that with the GLOBAL ENTRY, there is zero security check at the airport? Is it valid only at US airports?

    When I flew from frankfurt back to US, ( connecting flight) I was thoroughly searched from top to bottom and it is always like this when returning back to the states

  • Mark M says:

    I did the Global Entry program and have my card so that means that I have the TSA Pre-Check too? Do I need to carry my Global Entry card for a domestic flight? Thanks!

  • Frequent Flyer University says:

    @Sam – TSA Pre-Check gets you expedited security. You still have to go through security but you don't have to take laptop, liquids, or shoes off. Global Entry is for when you return to the US, you get expedited US Customs. Both programs are only valid for the U.S.

    @Mark – Yes, if you go to Global Entry website you can get your Known Traveler ID, you just enter that into your AA, United, or Delta Account online, then when they scan your Boarding Pass at the TSA Pre-Check point, you will get access to the TSA Pre Check line. You don't need to carry your global entry card to get it.

  • Ray M says:

    Some people say you have to be a citizen, others say Permanent Residents can apply it too. Can green card holder apply for global entry? Thanks.

  • Frequent Flyer University says:

    @Ray M – Not sure. Best bet is to check the Global Entry website.

  • Richard says:

    @Ray M – as a Permanent Resident you can apply and get Global Entry. HOWEVER, you will not be able to use TSA Pre (for now) – hopefully that changes. It's ironic as permanent residents undergo more and regular background checks than citizens, but that's the way it is for now

  • Dan says:

    Not anymore. Ever since the airlines print if you qualify or not on the boarding pass, they'll redirect you to the end of the line (depending on how bad a day the TSA officer is having) to get through security.

  • Fred S says:

    I have a greencard and got Global Entry in July 2010 (one of the first). When TSA-Pre started, I have 1.5 years no problems using it. But earlier this year I was 'randomly selected' 10 out of 10 times (especially in DFW. I was indeed informed that permanent residents can NOT have (yet) TSA-pre. Heard the rumor it is because of the total IT and organization mess at TSA (Duh!). During the summer I flew from terminals without TSA-pre, but recently I started working in SFO: Now I have a 50% "Ok-you have TSA-pre in DFW and (until now) 100% "OK-you have TSA-pre" in SFO. But officially I can't use my TSA-pre. Weird that I can come from Irak without any problems using Global Entry, but can't use TSA-Pre when flying domestically.

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