TSA PreCheck Could Become More Exclusive, Regular Lines Longer

U.S. lawmakers are moving on new rules that would exclude many passengers from using TSA PreCheck lines. For those already enrolled in the program, that could be a welcome change. For those more infrequent travelers, wait times will likely increase.

The House of Representatives passed the “Pre-check is Pre-check Act” (SIC) on Wednesday. With senate approval, the bill could become law this fall, effectively kicking everyone who hasn’t undergone a background check process out of PreCheck lines.

Congress limiting TSA PreCheck

If the U.S. House of Representatives has its way, you can say goodbye to gratuitous TSA PreCheck entry.

Airlines and airports will occassionaly funnel passengers through PreCheck lines at random to modulate security throughput during peak periods. This happens most often at busy airports, but sometimes passengers are given PreCheck passage at small, quiet airports. Before I was a Global Entry participant, I was once funneled through the PreCheck line at the cozy Akron-Canton Airport (CAK).

The Transportation Security Administration has struggled to keep up with enrollment goals for the program, which is part of a strategy to reduce security throughput times and improve efficiency at screening checkpoints. The TSA is supposed to enroll 25 million flyers in the program by 2019, but as of last year had only enrolled 5.6 million.

After completing background checks, TSA PreCheck travelers circumvent many of the more time-consuming security screening procedures, including full body scanners, shoe and jacket removal, liquids inspection and laptop inspection.

TSA PreCheck lines resemble airport security checkpoints in the happy-go-lucky 1990s. Passengers plop their bag on an x-ray belt, walk through a fairly weakly calibrated metal detector, and are on their way.

Rep. John Katko (R-New York) sponsored the bill. He writes that the practice of shifting regular passengers through PreCheck lines amounts to a security risk.

The practice “opens up our airports and airlines to vulnerabilities and risks the safety of the traveling public,” Katko said in a news release. “Rather than moving unscreened passengers through expedited screening lanes, this measure will ensure that TSA enhances its enrollment processes and develops alternative methods to manage checkpoint wait times.”

The bill is widely expected to pass senate approval, and President Donald Trump has not taken any position indicating a possible veto.

Assuming the bill passes, expect standard security lines to grow this fall. If you don’t have TSA PreCheck (or Global Entry, which includes expedited screening), it costs $85 for a five year membership.

Of course just about any travel card worth its metal — The American Express Platinum Card, Chase Sapphire, Citi ThankYou Premier, Capital One Venture to name a few — will cover the fees for either program.

 

 

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Comments

      • Hey Jeff thanks for your prejudiced ageist comments. Perhaps somehow you’ll escape that fate.
        Oh wait, that means you must’ve died young.
        And guess what! Some of us have had our GOES card for years.

      • Well, excuse us very much if we are just part of the human race you don’t like ! Maybe you should just jet away in your own plane instead of having to put up with us humans who need to travel as well, then you won’t be smelling up our line either.

  1. I have TSA Pre-check and my wife doesn’t. When she fly’s with me on the same reservation she gets to use Pre-check with me. Dose anyone know if this will continue with the new law or will she be required to enroll?

    • As written, this bill will disallow anyone who hasn’t enrolled and completed the background check from entering the PreCheck line.

    • I did read the bill and it excludes companions. It does have a provision that children under 12 and over 70 can us it with a member though.

    • It won’t without a background check. If you have one of the credit cards mentioned at the end of the article, her background check will be free otherwise the $85.00 is worth the expense. I (we) fly 3-5 times a year and the $85.00 was worth it after the first trip.

  2. I never know what to do when for whatever reason Delta doesn’t get my TSA number in their system correct during reservations. Seems hit or miss. At the time of receiving my boarding pass at the front desk is there anything I can still do then if I notice it missing or do I just have to suck it up and deal with regular security?

    • Hi Sharee,

      Strange, I’ve never had this problem. Try to make sure you have your Known Traveler Number in your SkyMiles profile on Delta.com. That should do the trick.

      If you have a Global Entry card, this is often accepted as evidence at TSA PreCheck lines, otherwise you’ll have to get a Delta rep to add your KTN to the reservation and reprint your boarding pass.

      Best,
      John

      • For several years I had Global Entry and not TSA. I was forever being sent into the regular line, which created a great deal of frustration. Time and again I spoke with both TSA and Global officials, with little effect. Finally, one day when the lines weren’t long I spoke to a front-line TSA agent about the problem. He leaned over and whispered to me “I can’t say this officially, but the two programs aren’t administered by the same department, which means we don’t cooperate with Global Entry. So, if you want to solve your problem, go spend $85 and get TSA approval as well.” Although frustrated, I did spend the $85 and since then haven’t had any problems. Another case of governmental efficiency.

        • This agent simply gave you incorrect information. Your Global Entry number can be entered as the KTN (Known Traveler Number) on any qualifying airline reservation, and can be added the same way to your frequent flyer profiles.
          I am a global entry, not TSA Precheck member, and since joining I have never been sent to a standard security line. I travel about 40-50 times per year, on average, and have been a member since 2015.

          • It is essential that you check, on every reservation, that your KTN is properly entered. It seems that, with Delta, it isn’t always “remembered” like other info on your profile. For limited airports, the ultimate passage occurs with Clear. This is a great process and is reasonably priced, but available at very few airports.

      • I have had this problem with Southwest airlines. I have Global Entry and they have the number correct but a computer glitch scrambles the number. I am not the only person I have seen this happen to, a friend of mine had the same problem with Southwest also.

        • Us also. Took several tries, & phone photo of our Global Entry card, to get Southwest to fix it. Luckily, it was a slow day & we had time. There was a TSA Pre-check person nearby, but she could not help us. Carry your card when traveling. Look at your electronic boarding pass in advance, to know whether you need to address this issue.

      • Two things: 1: I was TSA and global entry approved but my husband who had Lewy Bodies dementia wasn’t. TSA would not let him go through with me but at least in the regular line they didn’t make him take off his shoes even though I had to. 2: about a year ago my current husband and I (we are both global entry and TSA approved) had tickets that did not show TSA approved. I had both our global entry cards but neither the Delta desk not TSA accepted the cards. Delta said there was a computer problem.

      • I’ve had this problem with Southwest several times. I have a global entry number, and if the ticket failed to show TSA pre check, I was told too bad. Southwest tried to blame it on the global entry system. They said that sometimes global entry will pull your number to make you go through the regular security system. I called global entry officials, and the laughed and said that never happens. However, even though Southwest could see my known number was in my records, but they were unable to add it and reprint my ticket.

    • Yes, make sure your Known Traveler Number is in your profile and before you checkin for the flight, make sure it is on that specific flight’s traveler info. I have had it happen before that it did not tag on my flight, even though it was in my profile. And they did not let me through the Pre-check line without it on my ticket. I did not show my GE card at the time though, so that’s a good idea. And definitely get it reprinted as suggested if you want to use the TSA Pre-check line. I’m also a fan of CLEAR that they have in 30 airports now, including mine (ATL). That is much faster than TSA-Pre, which can still be a 20-min wait here.

    • I’ve had that happen to me on a Delta reservation. The TSAPre logo was added to my boarding pass on my first flight but not on my return trip (mobile boarding pass). The ticketing agent at the airport was able to fix the problem and issue me a new boarding pass.

    • I quit flying Delta for this reason, and I live in Atlanta. American/US Air/America West never once has failed me. Delta did it to me twice in three days of travel. The ticketing agent refused to do anything about it and said it was a problem with TSA, not with Delta. They lost my business forever with this simple failure.

    • Even though you have TSAPreCheck, it’s still subject to be “random”. Having said that, the only time I’ve been excluded is when my name on my ticket doesn’t match my TSAPre enrollment information. TSAPre has my birth given middle name (which matches my passport). My frequent flier programs used to have no middle name and some I used just my maiden name initial.
      Make sure that what ever TSAPre has is exactly what the airlines have and you should be good to go.

    • This can easily happen if your name is different on the reservation compared to what’s registered with TSA. Middle name is usually the culprit.

    • Hi Sharee,
      I had a similar issue with them. I would suggest going onto the delta website and make sure your precheck number is correct. When I looked at mine, they had the wrong number under my profile. you also have to make sure that the name on your precheck, id and delta profile match. My middle name was missing on my profile, which also created an issue for me.

    • Many foreign airlines do not participate in precheck, and if you don’t have your global entry card with you you must wait in the regular line.

  3. The desktop portal and the app behave differently. Be certain to add the KTN in both. It could be in your profile and not show in the app until added there. Known problem since 3 years ago…

  4. You list Citi Thank You Premier as covering the Global Entry fee. I have that card and I was not aware that it covered the fee. I looked through their website and application and it doesn’t mention it anywhere I could see. Does it cover the fee?

    • Mike, so sorry, you are correct. The Citi Prestige comes with Global Entry, but unfortunately not the Premier. Corrected.
      Thanks,
      John

  5. In TSA Precheck they have always asked me to take out iPhone and iPad, should I tell them it is not necessary, especially if I also have Global Entry?

    • No idea where this is, but I have never once seen an agent tell someone to take things out of their bag at a PreCheck line (I’ve been through the line probably around 200 times, at various airports). Typically the agents are yelling at people to NOT take out items.

    • TSA in Atlanta did this to me a month ago. They “advised” me to remove my tablet from the same bag as my laptop. When I asked why the policy changed I got crickets, “just do it” and I went on my way. A week ago, they did not tell me to do this and advised me NOT to do this. This is my chief complaint with TSA – they are horribly inconsistent in how they administer their checks.

  6. Sharee, it just happened to me on United. I didn’t notice until I was rejected from the TSA Pre line. I had forgotten how bad the regular screening process was.

  7. I am Japanese and travel to US 5 months out of the year.
    I often got automatic precheck.
    I applied to enroll some time ago and paid whatever the price was, and of course I found out later that since IM not a US citizen, I can’t enroll.
    Ok, then how come I get precheck? Whats my record?
    Money has been taken and no action.
    Why allow me to sign up? Why not alert US citizens only?

    • Hi Atsuko,
      The situation you described is exactly what this law aims to stop. Passengers will no longer be admitted to PreCheck lines at random. However, if you’re an elite frequent flyer with your airline, or are flying business or first class, you will still have access to the shorter priority security lines at the regular security checkpoint.
      Hope this helps,
      John

  8. The proven fact that 90%+ of air travelers present little, if any, risk as terrorists is always overlooked. I was in charge of screening passengers for the initial period after airlines were up and running after 9/11. The federal regulations as to what passengers could carry onboard changed literally hourly, and at times made no more sense than some in effect today, at what cost in $ and additional travel time. The entire system is a joke as is TSA!

  9. I wonder if this will impact children?y husband and I are both precheck and we fly as a family, they allow my 9 year old through precheck as well.

    • Hey Rebecca,
      I’m doing some research today to see how this may affect minors traveling with parents. Thanks for the question!
      John

      • John,

        My initial understanding was that only children 12 or younger would be allowed with their parent who is TSA Precheck. However I travel quite often with my now 14 year old daughter and she always has Precheck on her Boarding Pass. Of course we are always on the same reservation. Hope this helps.

  10. Now if they can just screen the TSA agents at some of the smaller airports and remove the wannabe Dirty Harry’s off of the TSA Pre line so they don’t slow things down to a crawl by scrutinizing every approved passenger and their items, it’ll be fine. Flew out of Burbank and the line was longer and slower than the regular lines.

  11. I had been TSA pre-check approved for some time, but now notice that I am only randomly selected. Up until 2008, I used to fly about 8 times a year, but now it’s about 3 times. Not a whole lot of difference. I don’t know why I have been ‘dropped’ out of this, but my guess is that they want the $85. I’m not now a threat, whereas I used to be considered ‘not a threat’. It makes no sense. I’m not in favor of the new law.

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