TSA to ‘Significantly Reduce’ Access to PreCheck in February

Jan 27, 2017

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Perhaps the greatest frustration to TSA Trusted Travelers are the many clueless passengers that somehow end up in the TSA PreCheck lines. These passengers not only make lines longer, but also slow things down by not knowing the rules of PreCheck. Well, the TSA has confirmed to TPG that there’s going to be a “significant” reduction in the numbers of these travelers “starting [in] early February 2017.”

Feel like you heard this before? Back in September 2015, the TSA announced it had ended the Managed Inclusion program. Turns out, this was just one part of the program that involved swabbing passengers’ hands for explosive residue before allowing them to use the PreCheck line. While the elimination of that initiative shortened lines a bit, the new reduction coming in just a few weeks should make a much larger impact on the lines.

We can hope that the TSA PreCheck lines become this short.

Citing security reasons, the TSA will not quantify the size of this reduction. From the statement the TSA provided, it seems that the size of the reduction will depend on the impact on each particular airport. That makes sense; if there aren’t many registered travelers using the TSA PreCheck line at an airport, the TSA will invite more low-risk, non-registered travelers to the PreCheck queue to help balance out the lines.

The good news is that the long-term goal of the TSA is “to only have enrolled or pre-vetted passengers in the expedited lanes.” But, unfortunately, “we’re not there yet.” The TSA strongly recommends that frequent flyers — which it defines as three or more round trips per year — enroll in a Department of Homeland Security program such as TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. We certainly agree, and highly recommend the latter option, since it includes access to PreCheck as well as fast-tracked immigration.

Many cards will reimburse the cost of enrolling in Global Entry.

With 30 airlines partnering with TSA to include their passengers in the TSA PreCheck program and this new reduction in the number of passengers who can access these lines, there’s never been a better time to enroll. Just make sure to charge the application fee to a credit card that’ll reimburse the cost, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, Citi Prestige, Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MastercardThe Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Bottom Line

We’re happy to hear that the TSA is working hard to shorten TSA PreCheck lines, as they’ve definitely grown in length over the past year. Someday relatively soon, these lines could be restricted to only registered travelers — and luckily it’s not hard to become one.

Featured image courtesy of Alex Wong of Getty Images.

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