If you have traveled in the United States any time after 2001, then you are familiar with the (TSA) Transportation Security Administration. They screen everyone before you board the plane and determine if you are a threat to that flight and its passengers. Here are some NH Travel Agent tips on what a TSA Precheck is and how it affects your travel plans.
A Typical Day Flying
You probably have made a checklist of things you cannot bring onto a plane or what you need to do to get through airport security. Here’s a typical checklist:
- Make sure you have your drivers license and passport
- Wear shoes without laces
- Wear socks without holes
- Wear pants that don’t require a belt
- Remember what 3-1-1 means. If you are not familiar with it, here it is:
3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure.
- Use a bag or briefcase that allows you swiftly to remove your computer and any other electronic devices.
- Wear a jacket or sweater that is easily removable when in line.
- Be prepared to walk through the scanner or be frisked by a TSA security officer when in line.
These are just some of the many things that you may or may not be thinking about when you go through the TSA security line before boarding your flight. Everyone dreads going through security and the possibility of being seen naked on the scanner or getting frisked physically by someone you don’t know (a security officer). There is a better way to avoid all of that hassle. It is called a TSA PreCheck! If you are not sure how to get TSA approved, stop into our local office and talk to one of our NH Travel Agent specialists.
So, what is a TSA PreCheck?
A TSA PreCheck is an initiative to provide the general public a quicker way to get through airport security for “low-risk passengers”. This initiative is currently available at 118 U.S. airports. Passengers that use the following participating airlines are eligible if they meet the current criteria. Here are the participating airlines:
- Air Canada
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Sun Country Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Airlines
According to the TSA website, to be eligible for the TSA Precheck you have to meet these requirements.
- U.S. citizens of frequent flyer programs who meet TSA-mandated criteria and who have been invited by a participating airline.
- U.S. citizens with a Known Traveler Number (KTN).
- U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents who have become members of the TSA Precheck application program.
- U.S. citizens that are members of a U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) trusted traveler program, such as Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI.
- Canadian citizens who are members of NEXUS.
- Foreign nationals of select countries who are members of Global Entry (see Global Entry eligibility) and not registered as a U.S. lawful permanent resident.
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Reserves, and National Guard.
- Department of Defense and U.S. Coast Guard civilian employees.
- Certain other passengers who don’t meet these criteria may be sent to the Precheck expedited screening line based on “observation” by “trained” personnel that they appear low risk (supposedly based on observation of behavior, not “profiling”). (Hint: Don’t appear anxious in the security line. I’m not sure how they differentiate fear of flying from fear of having one’s bomb detected).
You can apply to the TSA Precheck here. There is an $85 fee that will make your TSA Precheck valid for 5 years. The benefit is with a TSA Precheck you are pre-cleared before you even get to the airport for security. You will still have to go through security, but it will be faster with the TSA Precheck.
Keep in mind that this is not a perfect solution to the long lines to get through TSA security. As more people adopt this new initiative, those lines will increase, and the wait will be extended. As a general rule, get to the airport 2 hours before your flight. That will give you plenty of time to get through airport security and be ready to board your flight.
(A version of this article first appeared on Boomeresque.)