Hey! It’s Emily – one of the Hip2Save sidekicks! Today I’m sharing with you a frugal tip I recently discovered…
My boyfriend travels a bit for work, and I love the opportunity to go when I can. When I used to travel more in my college days, I remember paying extra to have priority access to security checks through JetBlue, because it was worth it to me to pay for less of a headache.
Fast forward to now – Here’s where TSA Pre✓ comes in.
I heard about this program a couple years back but thought nothing of it (mainly because I didn’t think I’d use it enough to justify the $85 charge). That said, about 2 weeks before a recent trip I remembered this program and thought, “Shoot, maybe I should have signed up for that pre-check thing…”
I know I’d be cutting it close since the timeline was so short, but I decided to go for it anyway.
Here’s what I did and why I’m recommending it…
Step 1: Apply online.
It’s really as simple as it sounds. The online application took me a total of about 3 minutes. I was a little concerned because I figured I had missed something — it was just a little too easy. The payment wasn’t even required up front!
They did note on the application that individuals with a history of crime and/or felony should reconsider applying, given the limited chance of being approved for the program. The $85 charge is non-refundable, even if you don’t get in.
With my clean record outside of a couple speeding tickets (they’re from my college days… I was young and free!) I proceeded on with the application process.
Step 2: Schedule an in-person appointment.
This step will automatically generate after you submit your online application. The location options will vary based on where you live. I thought I would have to go to the airport to do this and deal with the traffic and parking fees, but nope! The location it populated for me was a small identity services office in a nearby suburb.
Since I submitted my application on a Friday, the earliest appointment slot was for the following Monday. I had 13 days until my flight, so I was hoping time would be on my side.
Step 3: Show up for your “interview”.
Don’t worry, this is NOTHING like a job interview, and more of just a confirmation that you’re a real person. In my interview, which took a whopping 2 minutes as opposed the to advertised 10, they pretty much confirmed the info I put in on my application and scanned my fingerprints.
They did also ask for my social security number — though it is OPTIONAL. I was told this helps expedite the process. So yeah, I gave it to them, with the assurance that only the FBI has access to that info.
This is also when I actually paid the application fee. It set me back $85, but it’s valid for 5 years. The way I look at it, even if I travel once per year and go through security twice (on the way there and the way home) that’s only $8.50 to jump to the front of the security line each time — that’s less than I was paying to jump the line with JetBlue. Totally worth it.
Step 4: Play the waiting game.
The man who conducted my “interview” was super helpful and told me that it generally takes about a week from the completion of the whole process to receive my KTN (Known Traveler Number) if I’m accepted. Cool, I’ll have my number in time for the trip!
I was surprised and thrilled when I got my KTN only 3 days after that interview via email — half the time they said! Two days after that, I got my KTN in the mail as well. I’m really into the TSA’s policy of saying things will take way longer than they actually do!
Step 5: Update existing boarding passes and save the number for future trips.
I already had my flights booked, so I logged into my Delta account to update my boarding pass with my KTN (I feel really cool saying I have a KTN). I also saved a picture of the number on my phone in case I needed to show it again at security.
Hip Tip: Check out these clever 5 ways to save BIG on your next vacation!
Now, here’s the fun surprise…
When I got to the airport with my boyfriend, I was grinning because I knew I could breeze through security and leave him in the dust (we’re competitive like that). I made my way toward the TSA Pre✓ line. However, my snarkiness backfired when he told me he also had a TSA Pre✓ number on his boarding pass — it was mine!
I was a bit confused by this, but after talking to TSA customer service after the trip to see if my KTN would cover both of us next time we travel, the agent told me that prior to our trip, TSA was able to review my boyfriend’s flight history (since he had his Delta frequent traveler number on his ticket) and deemed him as a low-risk companion, thus letting him use the line with me as a preview to the program. So it was more like a free trial with the hopes that he may sign up himself. Unfortunately, this won’t happen on every trip so I may have to convince him to get his own KTN.
Here’s how this could benefit you!
Even though my boyfriend was only granted a one-time sneak peak at the program, children under 12 years old are able to accompany their parents in the TSA Pre✓ line as long as the parent has a valid KTN indicated on their boarding pass.
Whether you travel with or without kids, it’s a great benefit to not have to stress about being at the airport hours before takeoff. Does anyone else’s dad still insist to arrive at the airport 2 hours before seating begins, or is that just mine? 🤔
Another feature of the program? Set it and forget it. What that means is instead of having to pull out your bag of liquids and laptop from your carry on, you simply place your bag on the conveyor and walk through — WITH YOUR SHOES ON! Seriously, easy peasy!
Why your family needs to sign up for TSA Pre✓:
Don’t be like the McAllisters from Home Alone! Combine the skip-the-line and easy walkthrough aspect of security, and you’ve got the makings of one headache-free airport experience – especially when traveling with little ones!
All in all, I’m SO happy I applied for TSA Pre✓. My airport experience couldn’t be easier!
Now, if I only I could get my hands on one of these… 👇
Written by Emily for Hip2Save. Emily lives in Buffalo, NY where she spends her time drinking lots of coffee, scouring the internet for deals, and tackling DIY projects. She’s a big believer in self-care and living the fullest life possible, all while saving money of course.