How TSA PreCheck Works

How TSA PreCheck Works

There are millions of reasons to love traveling, but airport security is generally not one of them. The long lines, wait times and security screening can dampen the spirit of the most enthusiastic traveler. If you travel – even if only occasionally – you may be interested in enrolling in the TSA PreCheck program. A five-year membership costs $85 and can help you save time and reduce stress when going through airport security.

What is TSA PreCheck?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched TSA PreCheck in 2011 to provide travelers with an expedited screening process at security checkpoints when traveling domestically. TSA PreCheck is used by over seven million people and is available at over 200 airports nationwide, including the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. TSA PreCheck is available to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

The primary benefit of being an approved TSA PreCheck traveler is that it can significantly reduce the time required for security screening. TSA PreCheck passengers have access to a separate TSA PreCheck security lane, allowing them to by-pass the lane with non-TSA PreCheck travelers. When it is time to go through security, TSA PreCheck travelers don’t need to remove their shoes, belts or light jackets, or take out laptops or approved travel liquid containers from carry-ons. These time-saving steps allow for a quicker screening process. According to TSA.gov, 92% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes to be screened in February 2019!

Some Restrictions Apply

It is important to know that being TSA PreCheck eligible does not guarantee expedited screening, so participating travelers may be required to go through standard security screening. The TSA uses unpredictable security measures, both seen and unseen, throughout the airport and therefore can’t guarantee any individual expedited screening. Before traveling, make sure you check your boarding pass to confirm if you received TSA PreCheck. TSA PreCheck will be printed on your boarding pass and embedded on the boarding pass barcode. Once a boarding pass is scanned at a checkpoint, TSA officers may refer you to the TSA PreCheck lane if you are in the regular security lane.

Remember that people traveling in a group may not be TSA PreCheck approved for the same flights. Make sure you check all boarding passes before you arrive at the airport, so you know who should be in which security lane. Children 12 and under may use the TSA PreCheck lane when traveling with a parent or guardian who has TSA PreCheck on their boarding pass, but travelers who are 13 and older who do not have a TSA PreCheck boarding pass must go through the regular security lines.

Occasionally non-TSA PreCheck members have received TSA PreCheck for select flights. The TSA has provided this benefit on a random basis to known-travelers who fly frequently so they can experience the program at no cost. In recent years however, the TSA has reduced the number of non-member PreCheck flights, so travelers are less likely to receive this benefit. If you want to enjoy the benefits of an expedited screening process in the future, consider applying for TSA PreCheck.

How to Apply for TSA PreCheck

To apply for TSA PreCheck, you will need to fill out a short online application and then schedule an in-person appointment at an enrollment center. The Twin Cities’ enrollment centers are located in Brooklyn Center, Bloomington, and in Terminal 1 of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (located past the security checkpoint). The in-person appointment takes about ten minutes and includes a background check and fingerprinting. Individuals who apply directly through the TSA PreCheck application program will receive written notification two to three weeks after completing the in-person appointment.

TSA PreCheck is available for passengers departing from a U.S. airport to a foreign country; however; international travelers should consider enrolling in a program called Global Entry instead of TSA PreCheck. With Global Entry, you’ll receive expedited customs processing when entering the U.S., plus you’ll receive TSA PreCheck when flying from U.S. airports. Global Entry costs $100 for a five-year membership, and the online application is available on the Trusted Traveler Program on the U.S. Customs website.

If you would like more information or want to apply for TSA PreCheck visit www.tsa.gov/precheck or consult with a AAA Minneapolis Travel Agent at www.aaa.com.