Tired of stripping down, removing your shoes, taking your laptop out, and then finally having someone rub their hands all over you just to get through airport security? We all hate doing it, but we really don’t have a choice…unless you’re approved for the new TSA PreCheck Program.
The TSA is now allowing certain low-risk travelers to easily pass through security by removing a lot of the security measures we have grown accustomed to. TSA critic, Christopher Elliot, provides the best description of the program: “No scan, no pat-down, shoes on, everything stays in the bag. It’s like flying in 2001.”
I first noticed something different about the security line when I was flying back to Panama from Kentucky after Christmas this year. The line was long like normal, but there was also a line next to it that just had a few people. I went in the bigger line because I thought it had to be some kind of trick.
A few minutes later my curiosity was answered by an announcement from a TSA employee, “Everyone, please check your boarding passes now. If you’re ticket says ‘TSA PreCheck’ you get to leave your shoes on today. Also, please go to the left line.”
Everyone immediately whipped out their ticket like they were checking the winning lottery numbers. Unfortunately, I was not a winner but one of the people behind me was assigned this special entitlement. It was a husband and wife traveling together and only the husband received the TSA PreCheck approval. He then told his wife, “ Sorry honey, you know how much I hate going through security,” and then abandoned her for the VIP line.
I was disappointed that I wasn’t selected as I took off my belt, shoes, and then removed my laptop from my backpack like a sore looser. It just wasn’t fair!
Apparently some airlines are automatically submitting passengers that they consider low-risk to be TSA approved, so a lot of people don’t know they are part of it. I did a little bit of research on my phone after getting patted down through security and found out how to get in on the program.
You can go to the TSA website and schedule an appointment at a TSA center nearest to you. The requirements are US$85, a photo ID, and proof of citizenship (passport, birth certificate, etc). Once you’re approved, you maintain the TSA approval for five years.
Even though I’m from Kentucky, I would prefer to keep my shoes on – but I don’t know if US$85 is worth it. Everyone who was in line in security seemed surprised that they were selected so I am assuming that most people were not paying the fee.
About a week later I received an email from Delta explaining the program. I headed over to their site and applied for their free TSA approval program. The approval is on a per flight basis so it’s not guaranteed that I will get it on my next flight, but better to test the waters before I pay US$85.
PreCheck is currently available at 114 U.S. airports and the TSA has plans to add 300 more enrollment centers to make the process easier. Head over to this link to learn more about the TSA PreCheck Program.