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What is a redress number? Do I need one?

Aug. 27, 2022
5 min read
woman opens suitcase for security review at airport
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If you’re a frequent traveler, you’re likely familiar with trusted traveler programs such as TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, Clear and Mobile Passport.

The rules and benefits for each program vary, but they all offer travelers an expedited and, in many cases, a fast and hassle-free journey through airport security and/or the customs/border experience in exchange for some personal information and, in most instances, a fee.

If you sign up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry (which includes TSA PreCheck status) through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and are approved, you will be issued a Known Traveler Number (KTN).

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Add this number to airline reservations and to all your frequent flyer accounts to ensure your TSA PreCheck status appears on your boarding pass.

While forms often ask travelers for their KTN, as well as a redress number (“enter your Redress or Known Traveler Number here"), many travelers may be confused as to what a redress number is.

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The good news is that most travelers don’t need to worry about getting or using a redress number. But here’s an explanation of what it is (and isn't), why you’d need one, how to apply for and get it and when to use it.

What a redress number is not

First, let’s clarify what a redress number isn't.

It’s not the number of times you’ve had to take off your shoes, belt, jacket, winter coat, or heavy jewelry at the security checkpoint, put it all in a plastic bin, walk through the metal detector, and then get redressed on the other side.

That, as our friends at Milwaukee International Airport first dubbed it, is called recombobulation. You don’t need a special number for that, just your attention so that you don’t leave any of your belongings behind.

As mentioned above, your redress number is also not your TSA PreCheck number. Although, somewhat like a TSA PreCheck number, a redress number may help smooth your way through the security screening experience.

OK, so what is a redress number?

A redress number is what you’ll need to seek out if you’re constantly hassled by security issues when traveling.

It is the number, really a case number, the Department of Homeland Security can issue to you if you go through the application process and get a ruling under the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program.

DHS describes the program as “a single point of contact for individuals who have inquiries or seek resolution regarding difficulties they experienced during their travel screening at transportation hubs — like airports — or crossing U.S. borders.”

And the agency told TPG it has processed about 300,000 inquiries since 2007.

The DHS lists examples of “difficulties” including watch list issues, screening problems and “situations where travelers believe they have been unfairly or incorrectly delayed, denied boarding or identified for additional screening…”

Are you not actually on the government’s watch list but are repeatedly pulled over for additional screening or did your airline inform you that the U.S. government will not authorize you to travel? Filing a complaint with the redress program — and getting a redress case number — might reduce or eliminate the hassles.

How to apply for a redress number

Apply for a redress number online (from your computer or mobile device) through the DHS TRIP program.

You must first take a "quiz" to determine if you really have a redress issue. If your travel issue is related to “discrimination; lost/damaged items or personal injury” or “assistance during screening for travelers with disabilities, medical conditions, and other circumstances,” DHS will point you to another program.

TRIP.DHS.GOV

If your issue or complaint falls under the DHS TRIP program parameters, you’ll be sent to a login page to open a redress file, describe your travel complaint and share ID documents.

Before you start, make sure you have your current identity documents, such as your passport or driver’s license, as well as information about the date, time and location of your travel incident.

TRIP.DHS.GOV

What happens next?

Once you submit your application, DHS TRIP informs you it will process your request. According to DHS, the timeline for review “varies based on the concerns raised in the redress application.”

You can track the status of your case in the DHS TRIP Portal.

Status categories include “In Draft,” which means you’ve started an application but haven’t completed it; “In Progress,” which means DHS TRIP received your application and has put it in the review cue; “Info Needed,” and “Closed,” which mean you should have a determination letter in your file from DHS.

If DHS closes your case and decides to issue you a Redress Control Number, the agency suggests you add that number to all your airline reservations.

“Providing this information will help prevent misidentifications from occurring during security checks against government records and other information,” says DHS. However, the agency warns that the DHS TRIP program cannot guarantee you’ll always have smooth sailing after that.

Security measures outside of the redress process may sometimes require additional screening, DHS notes, adding that “while this process may sometimes be stressful, we rely on the patience, cooperation and understanding of travelers in such cases.”

Featured image by AZMANL/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases