TSA PreCheck : is it worth it?

Coming off a summer of flight delays, lost luggage, cancellations and long lines at airports, Globe Aware volunteers are looking for ways to ease the process. TSA PreCheck may not guarantee an on-time flight, but it can save travelers some time.

Airport lines too long? Here’s what you get with TSA PreCheck and how much it costs

Josh Rivera
Sept 10 2022

When looking to fly, travel time is not just the duration of the flight. There is the commute to the airport, check-in lines, bag drop-off lines, customs (if traveling internationally) and the always popular Transportation Security Administration line.

The lines add up, and travelers’ schedules get tighter.

Coming off a summer of flight delays, cancellations, lost bags and long lines at airports, travelers are looking for ways to ease the process. TSA PreCheck may not guarantee an on-time flight, but it can save travelers some time.

Here’s what travelers need to know about the TSA PreCheck program.

What is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is a program that provides travelers an expedited security screening at U.S. airports.

Once in the program, travelers provide their fingerprints, pay a nonrefundable fee and submit to a background check. They then receive a Known Traveler Number. TSA PreCheck does not include an ID card.

Is TSA PreCheck worth it?

It depends on what travelers value. Flyers definitely do not need it to travel, but those who visit an airport more than a couple of times a year may find it useful.

A TSA spokesperson told USA TODAY that 95% of passengers with PreCheck waited less than five minutes in August.

One of the biggest attractions, however, is the ease the program provides. Travelers with PreCheck do not need to remove their shoes, belts, light jackets or laptops from their bags when going through the security line.

Children ages 12 and under can join their guardian in dedicated PreCheck lanes.

How much does TSA PreCheck cost?

The initial application includes a nonrefundable fee of $85. Online renewals require a nonrefundable fee of $70.

There’s a list of credit cards and loyalty programs that cover the application fee as a member benefit, or allow travelers to use rewards points to pay for it.

How do I apply to get TSA PreCheck?

Travelers can visit tsa.gov/precheck to learn more about the program, and can get started by clicking on this link.

If a traveler fills out the form online, they can make an appointment at an enrollment center to finish the process by providing documentation, fingerprints and payment. Some centers accept walk-ins – but travelers need to make sure they have all the required documents with them.

What happens in the ‘interview’ for TSA PreCheck?

Not much.

Once a traveler registers with the required identification documents, an agent will call them in for the “interview,” where they’ll be asked to register all their fingerprints. The applicant will also be asked to confirm their address, take a quick photo and pay the application fee.

How long does the TSA PreCheck application take?

If approved, most applicants receive their KTN about three to five days after their enrollment center appointments, TSA says. Some applications can take up to 60 days.

When does my TSA PreCheck expire?

TSA PreCheck membership expires after five years.

Travelers will receive notifications to renew about six months before their expiration date.


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