Sunday, January 3, 2016

TSA Pre-check: Is it worth it?

I finally signed up for TSA Pre-check in early December, just in time for our last trip of the year to Seattle.  What is Pre-check, you ask? This service lets you get through airport security quicker via a separate line from the general population. Scroll down to read my tips, thoughts on the experience and if I would recommend it.

TSA Pre-check

If you regularly travel with a companion, make sure you both sign up for Pre-check since you both have to have it in order for it to work, i.e. someone cannot just tag along with you since you have it unless they are a child.  This means I made Jake sign up for it too. 

The sign-up process is slightly inconvenient, in that you have to get fingerprinted, but you don't have to do it at the airport. I made an appointment during my lunch break and went to an H&R Block to get my fingerprinting done. I was in and out within twenty minutes.

It usually takes less than a week to get your KTN (Known Traveler Number). They give you a website with a link to check your status. It takes a little longer to get the physical letter in the mail, but if you check the website you should find your KTN in less than a week after your appointment. I was pretty impressed with how quickly it was issued, considering it was close to the holidays. 

It's $85 for 5 years. That breaks down to $17 per year and if you travel six times at year, its $2.83 per trip. That is less than a latte at Starbucks. After just one trip, Jake and I both agreed that it was worth that amount of money, even if it was just for one year -- even if it was just for one trip. We traveled on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and honestly, both times, the airports were not that crazy. But it was so nice to just breeze through security though - you don't have to take your shoes off, your laptop out of it's case or your liquids baggie out of the rest of your carry-on. In Seattle we had to take our coat off, but not in Charlotte. So I assume it's up to the discretion of the TSA workers to decide. 

Now, I have heard that you don't get selected for Pre-check each time you travel, so that will probably affect how much I like the program overall, but as long as I get selected more often than not, I will be happy with it.  I'll provide an update on this piece later in the year.

Have you signed up for Pre-check? What has been your experience with it? Please share in the comments section below. 

Travel Fully,

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