Is TSA Precheck Better than the First Class Security Line?

Apr 26, 2015

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TPG reader Cameron tweeted me to ask

@thepointsguy – “If I have access to both the first class priority and TSA Precheck security lines, which is usually better?”

I love TSA Precheck. I’ve had it for several years now, and even though some airports are bad at policing the line and TSA often allows random people in, they recently announced they would be cracking down and cutting off people who haven’t actually applied for the program (via Global Entry or through TSA directly).

If you have access to both the Precheck line and the priority line, I would almost always say go with Precheck. Even if the Precheck line is a bit longer, it usually moves faster because you don’t have to take off your jacket or shoes. It will also help you to avoid the “nudescope” body scanner machines that let TSA see, well, everything that you’re offering.

Avoid these kinds of lines with TSA Precheck. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Avoid these kinds of lines with TSA Precheck. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

In fact, just a few weeks ago two naughty TSA agents were caught using the scanners for inappropriate activity, so if you have Precheck you may be able to avoid this.

If you enjoy your privacy, then go in the TSA Precheck line. In fact, my suggestion would be to get Global Entry ($100) so you automatically get Precheck — you just have to enter your Known Traveler Number into your frequent flyer profile. There are many credit cards out there offering reimbursement for your Global Entry application fee, so it’s not hard to get. Make sure to check out my most recent post on tips for getting Global Entry and Precheck.

Here are the cards that currently offer Global Entry reimbursement:

  • The Platinum Card from American Express
  • Citi Prestige Card
  • Advantage Aviator Silver Barclaycard
  • Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card (credit is more general, but Global Entry explicitly qualifies)

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

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