I’ve been a huge fan of PreCheck since it’s inception. I was an early user through my elite status with American Airlines and have enjoyed near complete success using my Global Entry status.
Just in case you haven’t been following along, what’s PreCheck? It’s security the way you remember it from 15 years ago. Leave your shoes and belt on, leave your liquids and laptop in your suitcase. And, much shorter lines (though that’s slowly changing with more people enrolled).
Before now, the only easy ways to get into PreCheck was to be invited by an airline, something the airlines extended to many of their elite members, and through membership in Global Entry/Nexus.
Starting this fall, TSA is starting a pilot program at two airports (my home airport of Washington Dulles and Indianapolis) where you can enroll directly in PreCheck. For starters, I get why they would pick either big or small airports depending on the kind of tests they want to do, but choosing a big and a small airport struck me as a bit odd (not that IND is that small, but it’s only 3.5MMish in traffic and doesn’t strike me as a big business travel hub).
It costs $85 to sign up directly for TSA PreCheck and you’re required to submit some historical and biometric info for TSA to approve. Once approved, you’ll receive a Known Traveler Number which you can reference with certain airlines to gain access to the PreCheck lanes.
But, this is just a bad idea.
For $100, you can apply for Global Entry. For the same 5-year period as TSA PreCheck, you’ll also get access to expedited customs clearance when returning to the United States from international travel as well as some limited reciprocal benefits in other countries.
In short, if there’s any chance you might leave the country in the next 5 years, just sign up for Global Entry and enjoy awesome customs experiences along with PreCheck.
If you don’t have a passport and aren’t planning to travel outside of the US, then it’s certainly worth it to shell out $85 for even infrequent travelers to enjoy 5 years of a much more pleasant security experience.