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American Airlines iPhone App Now Displays TSA PreCheck Indicator – So What?

by on June 10, 2013 · 34 comments

in Alaska, American, Delta, TSA, United, US Airways, Virgin America

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One of the hot topics in airline travel these days is TSA PreCheck. I recently wrote about how Virgin America has joined the program and the fact that TSA PreCheck recently expanded to certain international itineraries as well.

Personally I love the program since it can be a huge time saver at the airport, letting you speed through security without having to take off your belt or shoes, remove liquids or laptops from your bag, and access expedited lines. Granted, that comes with its own set of etiquette questions when you’re traveling with someone who does not qualify for PreCheck, but overall, I’ve had great experiences with it.

TSA Precheck logo TM

However, one downside is that when you check-in for a flight online, or even if you get your boarding pass at the airport, it’s hard to know if the airline’s system has you down correctly for PreCheck eligibility since several of the participating airlines did not put any sort of indication on boarding passes – neither mobile nor paper – to let you know.

Delta started a trend in April when it announced it would be adding a TSA PreCheck indicator both to kiosk-printed boarding passes as well as mobile boarding passes, and now it looks like other airlines are following suit, starting with American. This weekend, I was updating some of my iPhone Apps with new updates when I noticed that the American Airlines app had a new update which now will display if you’re TSA PreCheck eligible when you check-in and receive your boarding pass on your phone.

The American Airlines App has several new enhancements.

The American Airlines app has several new enhancements.

For comparison, here are the other five airlines that participate in TSA PreCheck and how they measure up when it comes to  notifying flyers of their eligibility for TSA PreCheck on their boarding passes.

Alaska Airlines: iPhone App, but not yet a feature
American: TSA PreCheck indicator in their iPhone App
Delta: TSA PreCheck indicator in their iPhone App
US Airways: No iPhone App, but indicator displayed when checking in on mobile site
United Airlines: TSA PreCheck support in their iPhone App
Virgin America: No iPhone App

The thing is – even if you are eligible for TSA PreCheck and have the indicator on your boarding pass, you don’t always qualify to go through the expedited security line. The TSA states on their site, while passengers with the PreCheck indicator have been pre-cleared to access the TSA PreCheck lane, no passenger is ever guaranteed expedited screening. The program preserves a measure of randomness for security screening purposes.

Expect security lines to get a lot longer if budget cuts go into effect.

Even if you are eligible, you can still be denied TSA PreCheck screening at the airport.

Personally, the first few times after I got Global Entry and had entered my Trusted Traveler number into my frequent flyer accounts, I did not qualify and it was pretty frustrating. But after that, I’ve gotten TSA PreCheck access 100% of the time. You might as well update your passenger profiles so that your Trusted Traveler number is in the system and these apps will at least let you know if you’re eligible for TSA PreCheck, but I wouldn’t cut your airport time too short just in case you’re one of the unlucky passengers who is randomly made to go through normal security.

Although my batting average with TSA PreCheck has been good, what have your experiences been like? What percentage of the time have you gotten to go in the TSA PreCheck line and how often have you been declined?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Rachel

    Is it safe to assume that if it’s a feature of the iPhone app, it’s also a feature of the Android app?

  • thepointsguy

    It actually doesn’t look like it. The Android app was updated the same day, but it only mentions logging in with your email and the new Exec Plat feedback feature but not TSA PreCheck.

  • James R

    The Delta Android app also shows if you qualify for PreCheck.

  • Beau Sorensen

    My wife and I both signed up for Global Entry a few years ago, then when Delta introduced the PreCheck option, I was pretty stoked – I entered in both of our trusted traveler numbers on Delta’s site and waited for the return to the 90s that it promised. Of course, that only lasted as long as it took for me to get to the airport and she got PreCheck and I didn’t. I updated my profile, I took about 20 different trips, and I never got PreCheck. It was very frustrating, but then I tried the other, smaller number on the Sentri card you get with Global Entry and suddenly it started working. That’s rule number one if you’re getting passed over on PreCheck!

  • http://www.CheersandGears.com Oldsmoboi

    I’ve never been declined in any airport that has PreCheck since receiving my Global Entry number. 100% success rate from the start.

  • bballjoe

    I have had zero success 0 for 5…it is very frustrating…

  • Stephen

    I’m wondering if anyone has any more insight into the various trusted traveler numbers. I’m trying the opposite approach to you, Beau.

    I’ve been using the number on my Nexus card which I got at the same time as Global Entry. I’ve never been selected in two years. I just found out about the number on the GOES website so I changed my Delta profile to use that. I’m flying on Friday and curious to see if that works.

    Beau–how do you explain that your wife was selected from the beginning without using her Sentri card number?

  • FlyingBear

    United’s Android app also has Pre-Check indicator

  • http://osnews.com David Adams

    I also have 100% success, on both Delta and United, once I got my info corrected entered in for my FF account.

  • Beau Sorensen

    I had 2 numbers on the back of my card. Near as I can tell I must have put in the correct number from hers, but the incorrect one from mine. It’s maddening that the bigger, more prominent number is not the one that you use, but that’s our tax dollars at work! I’m just glad it’s finally working now!

  • Traveler

    I am sporting 4 for 12 on United. I don’t have global entry, just a frequent traveler.

  • thepointsguy

    Are you 100% sure it is listed correctly in your profile?

  • ozzy86

    I went to use it at Denver last night for my first time, but TSA said they close up at 8pm. What?! I was there at 8:55pm so I just missed it.

  • UrbanPhoenixInjunCAM

    Can anybody clarify how many digits the number should have that can be entered for Precheck? I thought I entered the correct number 2 years ago but I have never been selected for TSA precheck on Delta since.
    Do I take number from Gobal Entry or from Sentri Card?
    Where is it located?

  • Loren

    I wasn’t getting selected until I realized that our corporate travel agent had my wrong birthday! Once I fixed that and had them use my entire middle name (as on my passport) instead of the first intial, I have had 100% selection. Also, before I figured out about the wrong birthday, and when the program was new, the agents didn’t realize that GE made you automatically qualify for Pre-Check. They would always tell me I had to “opt in” to the Pre Check program. But even when I wasn’t selected, the agents would just send me through to regular security rather than making me get back in line so it was ok. Now the TSA agents understand it better, but I had a better understanding of the program in the beginning than they did.

  • AADFW

    I’ve only been denied once out of probably 30 times the past four months or so. Global Entry here, and the one time I was flagged I had made changes to my reservation only a few hours prior to showing up at the airport. Not sure if that has anything to do with it, but the TSA agent said it’s a possibility.

  • Tomm

    +1. Can someone share, please? I entered the number that shows up online, but is there an additional number on the actual physical card itself that needs to be entered?

  • Jeff James

    I was 100% with my status on pre-check but went ahead and entered my GOES number to be safe. Still 100%, I was even able to use it with an international trip.

  • Beau Sorensen

    The best resource for knowing what number to use is this right here: http://www.globalentry.gov/pdfs/find_ge_card.pdf It’s the smaller PASS ID number, not the big obvious “please use me” number on the back of the Sentri card.

  • Jeremy

    New GE member yet to use PreCheck. Can someone clarify which is correct: You’re eligible for PreCheck and go through the expedited lane. If you get rejected which of these occurs:

    A) You get to continue through the expedited lane but have to follow all regular rules (take off shoes etc) OR

    B) You have to go out and get in line behind everyone else in the regular line and go through regular security. OR

    C) Something else

  • Michael

    I suppose it depends on the airport, but at Logan (Boston), it’s C — you get to cut the regular line and go right to the metal detectors in the regular line. Probably depends on how this is setup. Imagine that at Atlanta you’d have to go back out and into the regular line since the PreCheck lane is a completely different area. At Boston it’s just on the left-hand side (Delta gates) of the regular line so even though you use a separate line to get to the ID check, you can easily slide in amongst the regular lines once your ID is checked and you don’t get the 3 beeps.

  • Mike

    It should be the 9 digit number that’s listed as your Global Entry Program Membership # on the enrollment letter, which is the same as the “PASSID” # on the upper left hand corner of the back of the Global Entry Card

  • Steve chod

    I have been using the amex plum. What are your thoughts on this card. I pspend about 50k a month and have been taking the 750 in cash for early pay. Do you think i could do better with miles. I fly all the time. Especially to europe.

  • Shawn

    At several of the big airports I frequent, it’s C) you do not go through the expedited lane but you merge (on the other side of ID check) with all those in the regular lanes who are going through regular security. So if you don’t get the triple-beep, you’re at the front of the normal security lines.

  • Shawn

    The most interesting thing to me is that the pre-check indicator was always in the boarding pass, buried in the bar code. Another popular web forum has some details. The apps just eliminate the need to decode the bar code manually, so it’s a bit easier to see. :)

  • cohenm123

    Signed up for global entry relatively recently and have only taken two domestic flights since. First flight was Boston to LA (LAX) on AA, and precheck worked. This was a pleasant surprise, because I was under the impression that only Terminal A in Boston had a precheck lane (AA is Terminal B). Second flight was LA back to Boston, also on AA, and precheck didn’t work. I’m pretty sure the line they directed me to was still the Priority AAccess line though – i didn’t see any signs to confirm this, but it was definitely shorter than the other lines and I saw “Priority AAccess” on the boarding passes of some of the other people in the line. I changed my seat a couple times before this flight, and one time was just over an hour before the flight – maybe that had something to do with it?

  • Rob philip

    100% success. Key is having your name be *identical* on your airline profile as with the TSA. If your name with Global Entry is Roberto Fredriko Snerd, then that’s how your airline profile should read, *not* Bob F. Snerd. Passport/GE/Airline profile all need to be the same.

  • MiamiMike2

    Batting 100% since joining about a year ago (probably 15-20 times). Home base is MIA but had great experiences with LAS, JFK, LGA, LAX). All with AA.

    One interesting data point, experienced my first “line” at the pre-check line yesterday at MIA which isn’t too surprising with all the Monday morning business travelers, but it seems like there are a lot more people using it. At some point in the near future, they are going to need to increase capacity so that using pre continues to expedite the process. Still got through in about 5 minutes, but that is more then double the norm from my experience. It is really going to suck the first time I don’t clear.

    Happy to see Virgin joined the program, but when is Southwest going to step up?

  • PittFreeman

    I’ve only been declined once. However, the new indicator causes need to battle airport staff. If your known traveler number is tagged to the booking, but you are using a code share partner’s frequent flier number (ie using United number while flying USAir) it will not indicate it on the ticket because it’s actually linked to your frequent flier account. However, you will still get the beloved double beep to go through pre-check, so it’s worth “correcting” the airport staff checking the ticket and being a bit adamant.

  • The dood

    Im a Delta PM but wasnt automatically selected for precheck so I signed up for Global Entry. Since January I have flown pretty much every week and have been selected everytime! I work in Orlando and Precheck is awesome since most travelers are tourists and there is never a line for precheck.

  • Rob

    Hey TPG, Quick question for you – I have Global Entry & TSA Pre and regularly book domestic AA flights w/ BA miles. Should I still be able to take advantage of TSA Precheck benefits?

  • Li

    i get precheck 99% of the time when precheck is not available at the airport (get the beeps when scanning ticket), and annoying, i get no precheck 50% of the time when it is available (always flying the same airline, united).

  • JM Chicago

    I had 0% success until I figured out that my global entry listed my first name as “Jean Marie” with no middle name ( you can’t tell looking at the card). My Frequent Flier was first name “Jean” and middle initial “M”. Once I changed all of my FF accounts to match Global Entry, 95% success.

  • Jesse Bourque

    Last two flights my wife and I have been on, she was cleared to use pre-check lane, but I was not. Airlines confirmed that our Nexus numbers were loaded correctly in our frequent flier profiles. I was the one who purchased the tickets. I am trying to troubleshoot this, but not sure exactly where to start. One thing I have considered is that I perhaps didn’t enter the number into my frequent flier profile until AFTER I purchased the tickets, but that would mean that I DID enter my wife’s number… anyone else run into any similar circumstances?

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