Is TSA PreCheck still worth it for travelers?
This week, the Transportation Security Administration of the United States announced that TSA PreCheck has set a new membership record with 15 active million members.
The program, which was launched in 2013, allows travelers to go through an expedited security screening process at more than 200 airports in the United States.
With TSA PreCheck, travelers have access to a designated security line at the airport, which is often much shorter than the regular security line. They do not have to take off their shoes, belts, or light jackets, nor do they have to remove small liquids or electronic devices from their carry-on luggage.
But is this time-saving program still worth it for travelers now that more than 15 million Americans are enrolled?
Here’s what you need to know about whether TSA PreCheck is still worth it:
What Does TSA PreCheck Offer?
As mentioned above, members of TSA PreCheck have access to expedited security screening at more than 200 airports around the United States with more than 85 participating airlines.
When arriving at the airport, travelers will join the PreCheck line, where they will not have to take off their shoes, belts, or light jackets and will not have to remove small liquids or electronic devices from their carry-on luggage.
Travelers with TSA PreCheck typically only go through walk-through security machines instead of the more invasive full-body scanners.
Who Is Eligible For TSA PreCheck?
The TSA PreCheck program is open to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents.
In order to apply, you need to complete an online application and then schedule an in-person appointment at one of more than 500 enrollment centers nationwide.
This is the trickiest part of the process because it can be difficult to get a time slot for your appointment in a timely manner, but you can usually schedule one within a week or two of your application being approved.
At the in-person appointment, you will go through fingerprinting and a background check.
Once you’ve been approved for TSA PreCheck, you will receive a Known Traveler Number which you will need to provide every time you book a flight so that you receive PreCheck benefits. (You can also add it to your frequent flyer profile for airlines, so it’s attached automatically to all your flights.)
How Much Does TSA PreCheck Cost?
TSA PreCheck only costs $78 for five years and then $70 to renew every five years after that.
If you fly more than a couple of times per year, this quickly pays for itself.
Additionally, a number of travel credit cards will cover the application cost of TSA PreCheck for customers, so you can even get it for free.
Does TSA PreCheck Really Save You Time?
According to the Transportation Security Administration, 90% of TSA PreCheck members waited less than five minutes in security lines in February 2023.
So, in general, the answer is yes, TSA PreCheck saves you a lot of time.
Even if the line is a little longer, the line usually moves faster since no one is taking off their shoes or pulling their laptops and tablets out of their carry-on luggage.
Is TSA PreCheck Still Worth It?
Although more than 15 million Americans have now joined TSA PreCheck, it is still a worthwhile purchase for travelers, and the benefits outweigh the minor drawbacks.
Once you get through the application process, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of TSA PreCheck for five years before you have to renew again.
It’s a small price to pay for access to expedited security at the airport, and it makes traveling an easier and less stressful experience.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com