How Can You Make Sure You Get TSA PreCheck with Global Entry?

by on March 30, 2014 · 45 comments

in Global Entry, Points Guy Pointers, Sunday Reader Questions, TSA, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Jake recently sent me an email with a question about one of my favorite travel perks – Global Entry:

“Now that I have Global Entry, I’m not sure what additional steps to take in order to get my full TSA PreCheck benefits. I occasionally get picked at security for TSA PreCheck, but only about one in every ten times I fly. Does this mean I’m not properly signed up for Global Entry?”

The answer to the question, Jake, is that you can’t ensure you’ll get TSA PreCheck with Global Entry – you can only improve your odds.

I hate waiting in line, so Global Entry and TSA PreCheck are two of my favorite travel innovations. Global Entry is a government program that allows you to bypass those long lines at airport customs and immigration when returning to the U.S. from abroad. This is an especially welcome perk if you live in a big city like Miami, New York or Los Angeles, where those lines can feel like they go on forever. The other big perk of Global Entry is that it makes you eligible for TSA PreCheck. This means you can whiz through airport security without taking off your shoes or emptying the contents of your bag.

Once you’re approved for Global Entry, though, you can’t just assume the airlines are going to know that you have it. Upon your approval, Global Entry will give you a PASS ID number, better known as a Known Traveler ID number. You’ll have to manually enter this number into all of your frequent flyer program accounts, in a field (helpfully) called “Known Traveler Number.” Once you’ve done this, the Known Traveler Number field should fill automatically each time you purchase airline tickets through your frequent flyer programs, but know that sometimes it won’t; each time you buy tickets you’ll have to double-check.


Having your Known Traveler ID connected to your ticket information will then make you eligible for TSA PreCheck, but it’s not a guarantee – you won’t get selected every time, though it is pretty consistent. The good news is, your odds increase every time you fly: two years ago, when I first got Global Entry, I was being selected about 50% of the time, but these days it’s more like 100% – even on international itineraries.

I love Global Entry because it helps me avoid immigration lines like these.

I love Global Entry because it helps me avoid immigration lines like these.

For those of you who haven’t yet signed up for Global Entry, know that it has a $100 fee, but there are several ways to have this fee reimbursed. Several credit cards offer GOES application fee reimbursements, such as the Amex Platinum andBusiness Platinum cards (even additional cardholders), and the Citi Thank You Prestige card. In addition, United offers its Global Services, MileagePlus Premier 1K and MileagePlus Premier Platinum members the $100 reimbursement. If you qualify for reimbursement, log into this page to get your personalized code.

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on Facebooktweeting me or emailing me at [email protected]

For more on the topic of Global Entry, check out:

Global Entry Rocks My World
Seriously- Get Global Entry Already! FAQ & Ways to Get It For Free
Getting Around The Global Entry Appointment Backlog
My Experience Getting Refunded for Global Entry Using My Amex Platinum Card
Amex Platinum Global Entry Reimbursement + Point Accrual!
Top 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Global Entry

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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  • Alex

    I encountered this issue a few times. My eticket didn’t show tsa pre check, but my mobile boarding pass did. If you have a smartphone, try that as well.

  • Florida_dude

    I have gotten TSA PreCheck consistently EVERY single time on SWA as well as AA — no ifs or buts, and that’s the way it is supposed to work assuming you known traveler information (from GE) has been entered into the airlines system !!!

  • RakSiam

    I don’t think your ticket will ever show PreCheck. Only your boarding pass will after you check in.

  • SeaBee3

    Delta plats and diamonds also receive Global Entry fee coupons as a choice benefit.

  • Darth Chocolate

    I have never had a problem with Delta.
    In fact, my last flight from Paris (AF operated codeshare on a DL marketed flight) did not have a pre check for my domestic leg. But I had to change terminals for the domestic leg, and when I got to the right terminal, I asked the agent at the counter for a new boarding pass and got the pre-check.

  • other

    Is there anything that can be done when flying from the US on a non-US airline? I don’t see any way to enter a known traveler number on BA or Iberia.

  • jjflysalot

    Let’s just call what this is really–a money grab.

  • Alex

    Sorry I meant boarding paper boarding passes. Sometimes it doesnt pop up so my mobile pass does

  • Kathy

    I’m confused! We just got Global Entry and at our appointment they told us it cleared us for TSA Pre-check as well. Am I going to be in for a surprise??

  • girlycheckin

    I’ve flown 4 times since I got GE and got PreCheck every time since. The last time, however, was pretty ridiculous. I was flying back from SXSW and the lines at Austin airport were understandably long. I guess a lot of people saw the shorter PreCheck line and thought they’d try to piggyback onto it. I could hear the two guys behind me saying to each other, ‘What is PreCheck?’ ‘I dunno, but let’s act like we belong here and hopefully they’ll let us thru.’ Anyway, half the line must’ve been non-PreCheck people and none of the TSA people told them they couldn’t go thru and it ended up ruining it for everyone. They ended up letting all the non-PreCheck people stay in the line, and everybody had to take off their shoes, belts, jackets, etc.

  • Chris

    Note that if you are a Green Card holder you don’t get TSA PreCheck when you are approved for Global Entry. At the moment you have to apply for it separately.

  • Chris

    It should probably be noted that United actually requires members to opt-in to PreCheck even if they’ve already entered their Known Traveler Number.

  • Florida_dude

    NO — you should be good, though bear in mind that TSA Precheck is airport- , as well as, airline-dependent. If you’re traveling on a major airline from a big city (AA out of MIA for example), there should be absolutely no problem at all!

  • Florida_dude

    GE is valid for 5 years and costs only $100 (which is reimbursed by Amex Plat card, etc ); additionally, you get TSA PreCheck all the time as far as I know from my own experiences!
    I believe GE let’s you enter Australia and NZ without having to stand in line as well.

  • Brian

    Is there a place to opt-in or enter a Known Travel # for Southwest? For corporate travel I have to book through Voyager 2 so this has been an issue for me when I fly them.

  • libbrichus

    As an H1B Visa holder, do you think I have any chance to get either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck or are these only for American Citizens and Green Card holders?

  • wisheswishes

    At a minimum, you need to have a green card. No visa holders are eligible

  • Bill Rubin

    This information is incorrect. If you are approved for Global Entry, you automatically are enrolled in TSA PreCheck. PERIOD. Being enrolled in TSA Pre doesn’t automatically mean you get the expedited screening, however–as they do randomly select some Pre members to go through regular screening to keep the process honest. But that has nothing to do with Global Entry-TSA Pre enrollment. If you pay for Global Entry (which costs $100), then you automatically get TSA Pre (which costs $85 on its own). There is no question that EVERYONE should apply for Global Entry to get BOTH benefits, since the $15 difference is absolutely worth it if you travel frequently enough to consider either.

  • Kioly

    If you still can get your itinerary tied to your Rapid Rewards account, login, go to My Preferences/Contact Information/Personal Information and you can enter your Known Traveler Number

  • Kioly

    You are eligible. You just need to make sure that the airline knows your PASS ID / Known Traveler Number (either by adding it to the reservation or saving it in the frequent flyer account) so that they will give you the access on your boarding pass.

  • Kioly

    Only US-based airlines offer PreCheck (As of now: American, Southwest, Hawaiian, JetBlue, United, Delta, JetBlue, Alaska, Virgin America)

  • mike mckeever

    This is incorrect, I work for TSA, the fact that you have Global Entry does not automatically enroll you in Pre-check. You have enter your Known Traveler Number into your airline account in order to be get Pre-check, it won’t guarantee it but enteering it will boost you up to Pre-check about 99% of the time.

  • mike mckeever

    Globally Entry automatically qualifies your for Pre-Check but as TPG said you still have to enter your KTN actually receive Pre-check

  • Chris

    This is not quite correct. Green card holders don’t get TSA PreCheck after enrolling on Global Entry for example. But for US citizens what you say is right.

  • Chris

    There are citizens of certain countries that can get Global Entry even if they are not GC holders. Check the website. H1B alone is not enough.

  • libbrichus

    Thanks for your input here. I suppose you’re the best person to ask. I am an Indian national in USA on an H1B. Any idea if I can apply for Global Entry or similar programs? I googled it, but the answer is quite fuzzy. India and USA did sign a pact for this, but no one seems to know (at least by my research) if it has actually been implemented.

  • mike mckeever

    I can’t give much more information than you probably already know on this. I can tell you that I have seen many people with Indian Passports use Pre-check. But I have no way of telling how they qualified on my side of the process. Your best bet would be to call CBP and ask them or if that doesn’t work drop by a Customs office to ask next time you fly out/through an international airport.

  • James

    Actually, im a green card holder and they gave me precheck too.

  • 1250

    I am a citizen of The Netherlands, and I am on an F1 Visa in the US. Because there is a treaty between the US and Dutch Gov’t, I am eligible for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.

  • Danny

    When I applied for Pre-Check, I left off my middle name. Now pre-check works 0% of the time for me (my fault, I know).
    Does anyone know who I contact to fix this issue?

  • superfly

    And that’s the problem–why doesn’t it?

  • superfly

    Can only empathize with you–my cos travel agency has my middle initial added onto my first name–instead of separate. Nightmare–especially adding in TSA info into co web based app for tickets. Shouldn’t be an option–should be mandatory to include the full name, or just the initial.

  • Al

    I was approved for global entry about a year ago. I entered the known traveler # into my delta account as well. I am a diamond medallion and I travel weekly. Despite the post above, I get pre check every time I fly and I live in Atlanta.

    So with amex platinum offering pre check as a new perk is beyond pointless. They already give you a statement credit for global entry. Smh :slaps head: . Once you get global entry, then pre check comes with it. Again, I get pre check on every flight!!!

  • Ogi

    James, are you perhaps a Canadian? I only hear of LPRs getting Pre via Global Entry if they have Anglo-Saxon names… I have received a confirmation from the TSA that my KTN isn’t applicable for pre due to the GE-approved, yet LPR limbo… I don’t like it as a tax-payer, but hey…

  • UAPhil

    I don’t have GE, but I almost always get PreCheck on my boarding pass when I check in with United and Southwest. What determines whether people without GE get PreCheck. (I’m lifetime Gold with UA, and a frequent Southwest flyer.)

  • Matt

    I’ve had Global Entry for a year now and travel about 1 or 2 weeks a month in the US and Canada. My known traveler numbers on are file will the airlines I fly and I have never once not received TSA PreCheck. Even at airports that do not participate in the program, TSA PreCheck appears on my boarding pass and several times the TSA Agents have allowed me to pass without the normal security requirements (e.g. laptop out, shoes off…).

  • mistaeric .

    I was just approve tues of last week and the officer told me I could use my Global Entry immediately. But he didn’t give me any paperwork,so where do I get my KTN number? Will they send it in the u.s.mail? If so,how soon will it arrive?

  • Solanumph

    NEXUS card holders can use Global Entry kiosks – does that mean that they are full Global Entry members and thus enrolled in TSA pre-check?

  • Gilad Rom

    Green Card holder too, had to reapply for PreCheck separately.

  • Mars

    Regret to say, but Southwest Airlines has consistently not given me TSA Pre despite known traveler ID from Global Entry being in my record. Nor would they answer my written email complaints about this. They have sent me two emails asking me to call their customer service number

  • Anon

    It is the 9 digit ID number that you recieve on your approval letter which is on the website or the one listed on the card if you have recieved it already.

  • mistaeric .

    Ok,,Thanks for the info!

  • ilrodoowle

    Yep, when you enroll in NEXUS you are also enrolled in Global Entry and Pre Check automatically. NEXUS takes a bit more work, but it is by far the best deal!

  • FlyerJ

    Agree, and I got TSA pre official to confirm it. It doesn’t make sense but that’s what it is.

  • Bill

    I received my approval letter for Global Entry with a “Global Entry Progam Membership #”. Is this the same as the KTN number or the PASS ID number?

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