I’ve Had TSA PreCheck For 2 Years, and I Swear It’s Worth the Price!
Hip2Save may earn a small commission via affiliate links in this post. Read our full disclosure policy here.
I can’t sing the praises of TSA PreCheck enough!
I signed myself up for TSA PreCheck about 2 years ago, right before I was about to fly out for a vacation, so that I could reap all the benefits of this service: less hassle at security, quicker pace getting through to my gate, and not having to stress about airport business pre-trip.
If you have yet to sign up for this service (which is worth the $85 cost though many credit card companies offer full reimbursement on the application fee), here’s how to sign up and what to expect.
Step 1: Apply online.
It’s really as simple as it sounds. The TSA PreCheck 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 upfront!
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 approved.
With my clean record outside of a couple of speeding tickets (they’re from my college days… I was young and free!) I proceeded 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 is 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 stressful 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 to the advertised 10 minutes) they pretty much confirmed the information 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 I added it to my application with the assurance that only the FBI has access to that info…and again, I needed to be approved for this program before my flight in 2 weeks!
This is also when I actually paid the TSA PreCheck 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. Totally worth it.
Hip Tip: Don’t forget to check out this list of credit cards that will cover your TSA PreCheck application fee!
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.
Make sure that when you’re booking your flight, all of your information matches the information that coincides with your KTN. On one flight, my date of birth was wrong on my boarding pass so my TSA Pre✓ didn’t work, which required me to go back to the service counter to have my passenger information updated… but then it was smooth sailing from there (and was also faster than if I had waited in the regular security line).
Now, here’s a fun surprise…
On my first flight using TSA Pre✓, I was traveling on a vacation with my boyfriend and my TSA Pre✓ number was actually on his boarding pass as well. I talked to a TSA customer service representative to see if this would be a regular thing.
Since I had booked the flights together but included his Delta Frequent Flyer number for his ticket, they were able to review his flight history and deemed him as a low-risk companion. This allowed him to use the line with me as a preview to the program, in hopes he would sign up as well but isn’t guaranteed every time. However, we’ve taken 3 trips together and it has given him my TSA Pre✓ number every time!
Here’s how TSA Pre✓ could benefit you!
It’s great for families!
While my trick for extending my TSA Pre✓ benefits to my boyfriend isn’t a sure thing, it is guaranteed that 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.
It reduces travel stress.
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? 🤔
It’s less work for your carry on bags.
Set it and forget it. 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!
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✓ and have been loving it for the past 2 years! My airport experience couldn’t be easier!