If you’ve traveled more than a little over the last couple of years there’s a good chance this has happened to you. You approached security, looking at the long line ahead of you and wondering how much you’d be slowed down. You mentally prepared yourself, making sure you had your ID and boarding pass ready to present to the agent. You double-checked to be sure your pockets were empty and your belt was ready to come off when you finally got to the table. Then, it happened – you got the welcoming wave from a smiling TSA agent inviting you into the fast lane. You, my friend, were getting a free trip through the TSA PreCheck expedited security line. No matter what else happened after that, you knew it was going to be a great day.
It was fun while it lasted.
The TSA has announced that they are starting to heavily market their PreCheck program to travelers, and consequently will begin to decrease the number of randomly selected trips through the line they give out. That’s not to say it won’t happen – but I wouldn’t count on it if I were you. Not only will the random selections be decreased but members of airline frequent flyer programs that had previously opted in to getting an inside shot at PreCheck access will notice their opportunities decreasing as well.
The goal of the new initiative is logical: to increase the number of frequent (defined as traveling 3 times a year or more) travelers who have Known Traveler Numbers so that the TSA can put their focus on that very small number of travelers who actually pose a risk to security.
With that in mind, what’s the best way to make sure you get into the PreCheck line? Sign up! From here on out, the only sure way through the expedited security line will be with a Known Traveler Number, which you can obtain through the TSA’s PreCheck screening process or through Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Global Entry, Nexus or Sentri programs. And why wouldn’t you want to? As Travel and Transport Senior VP of Account Management, Nancy Rissky, stated on our website in January of 2014, “if you’re a frequent traveler, it’s a must to get approved for TSA PreCheck. This is the number one thing that made travel easier for me this year, and I wish we’d had it sooner.”
The Department of Homeland Security has created a great guide to help you choose which Trusted Traveler program is right for you as well as the best way to apply in your area.