A program to make flying easier just got a boost to make it easier.
TSA PreCheck is the frequent traveler’s best friend.
Starting in 2013, Transportation Security Administration started a program that allowed certain qualified travelers receive expedited screening for domestic and select international flights.
If you qualify for the program, you’ll be given a Known Traveler number that you add to any flight you purchased. When security personnel see the TSA checkmark on your ticket, you’ll be allowed to enter a special line that will allow you to essentially breeze past all of your fellow travelers. At some airports, you don’t even need to remove your computer from your shoulder bag, or take off your belt or shoes to get past the metal detector.
The program is available to members of the military, people who are members of frequent flier programs, or people who are part of the Global Entry program, which offers quicker re-entry for pre-approved international travelers. (Think of it as a PreCheck for the world.) Additionally, the program is available to members of NEXUS, and SENTRI, which are pre-approved travelers programs for, respectively, Canada and Mexico.
The only real problem is that in order to finish the application process, you have to do an in-person interview, usually at an airport, which can be inconvenient even in the best of circumstances. And currently, there is a backlog of applicants, which is causing people to have to wait to be approved.
But as pointed out by The Points Guy, there’s an unheralded option that may prove to be a lifesaver for people who want to make their holiday travel as stress-free as possible.
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How To Apply For TSA PreCheck
Normally, you begin your application process online at the TSA’s PreCheck portal. You will have to enter information such as your date and location of birth, current address, height, weight and eye color.
You will then undergo a background check, and if you qualify, you will schedule an in-person interview at a government office which will include getting fingerprinted. You will also need to present a form of valid ID, such as a driver’s license or a passport.
The TSA says most applications can be processed in three to five days, although sometimes it can take up to 60 days. But in order to help with the backlog of applications, and to make the process more accessible to people, the retailer Staples is also offering in-person interviews. Just enter your zip code here to see if your local Staples is participating in the program.
Once the interview is complete, it can take up to two weeks to receive your Known Traveler number by mail, but you can also check your status online.
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How To Save On Your Application Fee
TSA PreCheck costs $85 for a five-year membership, and you can renew it online for $70.
But co-branded credit cards such as Citi Bank, Delta SkyMiles, and certain Capital One and American Express cards offer users up to $100 in reimbursements for application fees.