TSA PreCheck Open Application and Enrollment Begins

by on December 6, 2013 · 19 comments

in TSA

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Back in July, I reported that the TSA planned to open up applications to its PreCheck security clearance program to the general public – until now, you had to be nominated by an airline or part of a trusted traveler program like Global Entry. While that might seem like great news for the flying public – giving anyone who passes a security check and is willing to pay the $85 fee to access to faster security lines (the fee is a non-refundable application fee that you have to pay whether you qualify or not), I lamented in a recent post that the TSA PreCheck ranks already seem to be bloated, making it the new slow line at security checkpoints. Well, application season is now open – and I predict things are only going to get worse in the PreCheck lanes.

TSA PreCheck application and enrollment is now open.

TSA PreCheck application and enrollment is now open.

Starting this week, U.S. citizens can apply online then visit an enrollment site and provide identification and fingerprints. TSA will start the program at two initial enrollment sites — Washington Dulles International Airport (not open yet) and Indianapolis International Airport (already open) — with plans to expand to additional enrollment sites nationwide.

Here are the rules:

  • Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and cannot have been convicted of certain crimes. If an applicant has a record of any of the crimes identified in the eligibility requirements, they may choose not to apply, as the application fee is nonrefundable.
  • TSA Eligibility Requirements
  • Interested applicants must visit an application center to provide biographic information (name, date of birth, address, etc.), fingerprints and valid required identity and citizenship/immigration documentation. Applicants also have the option to pre-enroll online to provide basic information and make an appointment before visiting an enrollment center.
  • Nonrefundable application fee of $85.00.
  • After completing enrollment, successful applicants will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) via U.S. mail after approximately 2-3 weeks or may check online after five business days.

Initially, TSA is only accepting applications at the Indianapolis International Airport (IND) application center, beginning December 4, 2013.

TSA PreCheck isn't feeling so "expedited" lately. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

TSA PreCheck isn’t feeling so “expedited” lately – and that’s bound to get worse. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

What this means?

To date, more than 12 million travelers have already experienced TSA Pre-Check at 40 airports nationwide, and today’s announcement will expand the availability of this program to a larger portion of traveling U.S. citizens – which is both good news and bad news.

While I still think TSA PreCheck is a great initiative, in order to be effective and truly speed up the security process, the program definitely has to expand right now to accommodate the flood of flyers sure to stream in and take advantage of this offer. Bottom line: more airports need more security checkpoints with more PreCheck lanes.

I personally wouldn’t pay $85 for this since you could just apply for Global Entry for $100, which is only $15 more and not only will you qualify for PreCheck but you will be able to access expedited immigration lines as well. That is, if you have to pay at all. Many credit cards will refund the Global Entry fee, including the Amex Platinum, Mercedex-Benz Platinum and Business Platinum cards, as well as the Citi Prestige card. You can also get the fee refunded, and United Global Services, Premier 1K and Platinum members get reimbursed by United.

So while part of me is happy for the additional flyers who will have this access, another part of me is groaning at the longer lines this means for all of us – back to the elite lane for me!

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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  • Darth Chocolate

    Actually, this is probably a good thing – going back to pre-9/11 security. If everybody (except for a few), then they will have to rebalance the number of Pre Check vs. “enhanced” security. Everybody wins.

  • ADPage

    They better let the airlines add priority pre-check lanes then….

  • Celeste

    I have flown several times since getting Global Entry but have yet to have TSA Precheck show up on any of my trips. Anyone know what I’m doing wrong?

  • Darth Chocolate

    Have you informed your FF program of your Trusted Traveler number?

  • RobL

    The airline has to have your known traveler number (you supply it when purchasing the ticket) and your airline has to support it. Until very recently, Southwest, for example, did not support the program. There should always be a box for entering a KTN and Redress number when booking. My number is saved in my profile with the travel booking sites I use, so it’s automatic now. If you have any pending bookings, you might be able to call the airline and have them add it.

  • Yosef

    Isn’t this something of a vicious circle? The more people that sign up for Pre-Check, the slower it will be, thus less of an advantage. Plus, there has to be a method to re-screen the pre-screened to prevent abuse.

  • REL

    They need to stop adding inexperience travelers and families which greatly slow down the TSA line. I suggest everyone write their government of complaints.

  • Ogi

    I’m a permanent resident and have had a KTN (via GE) since June. I’ve never gotten cleared for Pre – and I’ve flown at least 15 segments since. I’m wondering if this will change now.

  • Matt P

    This still doesn’t address how there have been so many people lately who have been approved for the PreCheck lane without having a clue as to what PreCheck is. I thought the whole purpose of the program was to allow pre-screened people through relaxed security? I’ve witnessed and know plenty of people who have gone through PreCheck with no pre-screening process like the rest of us. I’ve been meaning to ask a TSA agent about that.

    Anyone know a good answer?

  • Matt C.

    We asked about it the first time it happened at SeaTac (in October). TSA has opened it up on a “trial” basis to selected passengers from the regular lanes. Most of them have never heard of PreCheck and don’t know how to go through. In some cases, actual PreCheck-approved passengers still take priority and get called ahead first (this happened to me on Thanksgiving). On the upside, if this change means more people will know what PreCheck is and how to go through the line, hopefully it makes things better and not worse.

  • Kate

    Returned from MSY a few days ago. Did not get PreCheck for MSY, but PreCheck lane there was LOADED with kids and strollers. I had the chance to look over shoulders while waiting, and not one parent I saw had a Global Entry card. They were all just holding regular drivers licenses. Certainly appeared deliberate that parents with young children were getting PreCheck. They even had TSA agent at top of line directing them to PreCheck lane as most of them did not seem to know what it was. Fortunately, we DID get PreCheck on first leg (at FLL) which saved us from a truly brutal line in the Southwest terminal.

  • Mike

    JFK Ter8 recently made the terrible but more common place decision (see B-C at PHL) to lump TSA Pre lanes with the family lane (or other non-pre lanes). I have no idea why this makes sense because then you have 2 lanes going through the same security checkpoint, some with Pre and some without so I keep my shoes on while the dad behind me doesn’t, how does the officer at the scanner really know who is qualified?

    The whole thing is really a joke and just a scam they figure they can make more money on at this point.

  • Jay

    Same here Permanent Resident, 30 PQS on United since GE and never got TSA Pre, my name on the secure flight data is the same – no middle name issues, all I can think of is that its a citizenship issue, hopefully throwing $85 will make that problem go away


    I went through ORD and PDX in October where I fly often. The
    lines were horrendous. The worst I’ve ever seen. TSA was letting the
    unscreened through at PDX as a “trial”.
    I’m sure it’s only going to get worse with everyone having it. It’s the
    same as the boarding fiasco now that everyone with a credit card is group 1. As a Plat I have to push through the herds of gate lice. Nice.

  • Akrach

    I use PDX quite a lot as well, and I’ve got Global Entry. I see TSA at PDX move people into the Precheck line and they call it “Expedited Screening.”

  • mbc
  • John

    On the frequently asked question on the TSA Gov website, it says the below answers for “Who is eligible for TSA Pre”

    U.S. citizen, U.S. national or Lawful Permanent Residents who are members of the TSA Pre✓™ Application Program

    U.S. citizens who are members of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler program, such as Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS and Canadian citizens who are members of NEXUS

    I am a US Permanent Resident with a GE, and from the above answer, it sounds like the only way to receive a TSAPre is to apply for the TSA Pre Application Program?

  • FLN

    I’ve been TSA PreCheck through Delta on every flight for over a year. Should I go for Global Entry as well to get an official KTN? I’m concerned I might fall off the rolls. Will it mess up my current TSA PreCheck status?Thanks.

  • admin

    excellent info

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