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Although TSA PreCheck partners with five airlines in 40 airport locations to let trusted travelers through airport security without having to remove their shoes, laptops or liquids, until now, only travelers on domestic itineraries were eligible for it. However, the TSA announced yesterday that starting today, May 7, 2013: “In addition to domestic travel, TSA Pre✓™ participants will be eligible for expedited screening on select international travel itineraries. Eligible passengers traveling on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways will be allowed to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case, and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on.”
The TSA doesn’t specify which international destinations travelers can expect to be eligible for TSA PreCheck, but in a New York Times interview, John Pistole, head of the Transportation Security Administration, stated: “We reached an agreement with the European Union, Canada and Australia for them to accept PreCheck passengers from the United States.”
The TSA also announced that “passengers with connecting domestic flights who arrive in the United States on an international flight may use the TSA Pre✓™ lanes when going through the screening process at participating airports after being cleared by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”
So whereas before, even if you were flying a domestic leg to a gateway to catch your international flight, if it was all on the same itinerary, you would automatically be disqualified for using the TSA PreCheck line, but now, whether you’re on a domestic connection to your international flight, or on select international flights departing from one of the 40 TSA PreCheck airports on one of their partner airlines, you could be cleared to go through expedited security. The TSA isn’t saying which international routes it will work on – probably to preserve some of the security of screening through randomness – but even a few is better than none.
It’s interesting that this comes now since I mentioned last week that I was cleared for TSA PreCheck on my leg from New York LaGuardia to Miami where I was to connect to Santiago, Chile, when traveling with my mom. I was surprised that my boarding pass even registered as PreCheck – and after a brief discussion with my mom about airport security etiquette, I went through the expedited line and waited for her in the elite line on the other side. Same thing happened on my return leg after flying LAN from Santiago to Miami. In Miami I tried using the LAN boarding pass, but it didn’t beep. So I went to the AA counter and had then reprint the boarding pass and sure enough I was able to go through PreCheck.
Personally, I find the Trusted Traveler programs including TSA PreCheck and Global Entry to be huge time savers when traveling, and the fact that the TSA is adding international itineraries to the PreCheck program thrills me. Now if only they’d add more locations and more partner airlines so that if you are flying internationally on a non-US airline you could take advantage of these faster lines as well.
If you don’t have TSA PreCheck or a Trusted Traveler number yet, you could always get it by applying for Global Entry, which costs $100 for 5 years, since that qualifies you for PreCheck. Plus, if you have the Amex Platinum, Business Platinum and Mercedes-Benz Platinum cards, the Global Entry fee is refunded to you, so it’s free and it’s an easy way to get PreCheck-qualified as well. Also, United compensates Global Services, Premier 1K and Premier Platinum members for the $100 Global Entry application fee, for new applications.