Frequent flyers in the United States know the feeling of waiting in long security lines. Sometimes, they’re so long that you need to rush through the terminal just to get to your plane on time. Fortunately, there are several programs that allow you to bypass the regular security lines and get checked out by agents in a smaller, quicker line.
One of the best programs to use is the TSA PreCheck Program. This program is run by the Transportation Security Administration and is designed to allow passengers (that have to be approved to join the program) to enter the boarding area through a different security line than others. This speeds up the process and allows passengers to move quickly through over 180 airports in the U.S. Here’s a quick guide to the application process.
Who Qualifies for TSA PreCheck?
If you’re a U.S. citizen or a lawful resident, you are eligible to apply for the PreCheck Program though there are some restrictions. If you have had any trouble with the law in your life, this can seriously hinder your chances of being approved, and there are many criminal offenses that will automatically disqualify you from consideration.
If you have ever been placed on any type of federal watch list, then you will not be considered eligible. Other offenses that disqualify you include fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, unlawful possession or distribution of firearms, most drug offenses, robbery, assault, arson, and many other crimes.
Before applying, it’s best to go over your history to know if you will be disqualified from the start. This will save you both time and money.
How to Apply
If you think you will not have any problems qualifying because of your history, then the first step is to fill out the online application.
The application doesn’t take very long to fill out, but you will need to know information like your social security number, your real name, your current address, your date of birth and a few other identifying pieces of information. You will also have to have a valid email address and phone number for communication purposes.
When you fill out the application, do not put any false information on it. The TSA will eventually find out the truth and you will automatically be disqualified without discussion. Providing false information on federal applications is also punishable by law, so you could find yourself in more trouble than just being disqualified.
Schedule In-Person Interview
If your application is accepted, you will then need to have an in-person interview with a TSA agent. This is a normal part of the process and usually doesn’t take very long, rarely more than 25 minutes or so.
There are over three hundred locations you can choose to have your interview, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one near you. The website will show you all of the interviews in your area that are available for the next 45 days.
Once you have your interview scheduled, make sure to arrive 15 minutes early to your interview time. Also, you will need to bring two valid forms of identification. These can include your driver’s license, passport, a government issued ID card or a military ID.
You will also be required to pay an $85 application fee at the interview, so make sure to bring a check or a credit card. The good news is that many credit cards may reimburse you for the fee, so do a little research and find out which cards will do so for you.
On the days you travel, you will check your bags and get your boarding pass the same as you normally would. However, once you reach the security line, there will be a separate entrance for those who are TSA PreCheck Members.
You will have received a nine-digit “known passenger” identification number once you gained membership. This number will be automatically embedded into your boarding pass information, but you should also know the number in case of a mix-up.
You will then be able to pass through security with minimal hassle: you can keep your shoes, jacket, and belt on and you can keep your electronics stored in your bag
The TSA PreCheck Program is a great way to make your travels less stressful.
Ella Woods has a job at the airport working for security. She’s able to share some tips with travelers to help them get checked in and through security faster without any added stress, in her articles.
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