How Military Service Automatically Qualifies You For TSA PreCheck

Feb 25, 2019

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TSA PreCheck is offered by many airlines, a time-saver for travelers including families, and a perk of several travel-rewards credit cards. And if you are currently serving in the US military or are a Department of Defense federal civilian employee, you are eligible to receive TSA PreCheck at no charge.

You fit the above description if you are:

  • On active duty status in any US military branch;
  • Serving in the Reserve or National Guard component of any US military branch;
  • A cadet or midshipman in one of the US Service Academies;
  • A DoD federal civilian employee.

This benefit, however, is not automatic. You may be wondering how you can begin using it, and under what circumstances you are permitted to.

Before you start, here are some quick facts you should know:

  • You don’t have to be in uniform or on official duty to use this benefit.
  • Family members under the age of 12 can accompany you through TSA PreCheck regardless of whether it is printed on their boarding pass or not.
  • If you are married, your spouse will most likely not be granted TSA PreCheck as an extension of your benefit. If your spouse happens to get TSA PreCheck on their boarding pass, it likely is a coincidence.

Once you verify that you are eligible, the process is simple. If you are traveling on Temporary Duty (TDY) and do not handle your own booking, ensure that you speak with your travel representative and instruct them to type your 10-digit DoD ID (image below) number into the Known Traveler Number field during booking.

Pro tip: check out these instructions on adding your DoD ID number to all future bookings on the Defense Travel System.

Image courtesy of US Department of Defense

If you are traveling for leisure, simply input your DoD ID number as your Known Traveler Number when booking. You can add your Known Traveler Number to your airline account to avoid entering it every time you book. For DoD federal civilian employees you will have to register on the milconnect website before you can begin using this benefit. Read these instructions on how to do that first.

Now that you know the facts of who is eligible and how the program is used, let’s clear the air on some misinformation floating around the web about TSA PreCheck and the military:

  • Military retirees are not covered under this benefit. Some retirees have claimed that the DoD ID number on their retired ID card works, but the TSA website clearly states that retirees are not eligible.
  • Veterans and wounded warriors are not covered under this benefit either. If you are a self-identified wounded warrior and require special assistance at the airport, you must contact TSA Cares 72 hours before traveling. To be clear, this does not grant you automatic TSA PreCheck. However, if you have a mobility-limiting condition, you may be expedited through the screening process.
  • Do not expect to be granted TSA PreCheck by presenting your military ID card to TSA personnel at the security line, if your boarding pass does not have the PreCheck stamp on it.

Many people in the above categories are understandably unhappy that they don’t get TSA PreCheck, and there is a lot of confusing information on the web as to why they are not eligible. The bottom line is that they are no longer DoD employees who have to undergo consistent vetting and monitoring. The DoD and TSA agreed on PreCheck status because DoD members hold security clearances and are considered to be trusted members of government — just as ordinary civilians who successfully enroll in TSA PreCheck are considered, after background checks and an interview, to be trusted travelers. 

As a veteran, however, you are eligible for TSA PreCheck, but you will have to apply online and pay the associated fee.

If you’ve done everything right in the end, your boarding pass should have some variation of the word “PreCheck” on it. This will ensure that you get through the proper line and enjoy your benefits!

Featured image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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