What You Need to Know About TSA PreCheck®

Vacations are fun. Waiting in long airport security lines is not.

If there’s one thing all travelers can agree on, it’s that going through airport security lines is a pain. Long wait times, an uncomfortable screening process—and don’t forget that nightmare scenario where you arrive too late or get stopped in line and miss your flight!

But by signing up for TSA PreCheck®, you can save time and avoid these airport security headaches. Let us break down the perks of becoming a member and why it’s an easy, smart investment for frequent flyers.

Expedited security screening

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the number of travelers going through TSA security lines is returning to pre-pandemic levels—that’s over 2.3 million people being screened daily. Naturally, more people traveling means longer lines and wait times. But with TSA PreCheck®, you’re prioritized and expected to wait five minutes or less almost every time.

In May 2022, 93% of TSA PreCheck® members waited only five minutes or less. And considering the huge surge in summer travelers during Memorial Day weekend, that’s an impressive stat line.

It’s also important to note that you do not need to remove the following items from your suitcase or person:

  • Shoes
  • Laptops
  • Belts
  • Jackets
  • 3-1-1 liquids

Plus, any child 12 and under accompanying a parent or guardian with TSA PreCheck® can join them in those dedicated lanes. And with more than 200 airports and 81 airlines providing TSA PreCheck®, you’ll find yourself breezing through security—on your own or with the entire family—no matter where you are in the United States.

Easy and affordable enrollment process

Now that we’ve established the speedy perks of being a TSA PreCheck® member, let’s answer the big questions: is it really worth it, and how difficult is it to enroll?

The enrollment fee is $85. But, that $85 covers five years of TSA PreCheck® membership. So in reality, you’re paying only $17 annually—and if you’re a frequent flyer hungry for speedy convenience and fewer hassles, that’s pocket change in the grand scheme of things.

Here’s how the enrollment process works:

  1. Fill out an application online. You’ll provide your name and contact information and schedule an in-person appointment at any of the 380+ TSA enrollment centers. This should take only five minutes to complete.
  2. Complete your in-person background check at the enrollment center and pay your $85 fee. You’ll need to have your fingerprints taken, among other things, but this should last only ten minutes or so.
  3. Once approved by the TSA, add your Known Traveler Number to your next domestic flight for a faster, more seamless screening process! Your TSA PreCheck® status is officially active for five years.

Easy, affordable and well worth it if you’re an active traveler.

What if I’m traveling internationally?

Similar to TSA PreCheck®, Global Entry is designed to expedite the customs process when returning to the United States after a trip abroad. You will bypass long customs lines and proceed straight to a Global Entry kiosk. Here, you will:

  1. Present your passport or U.S. permanent resident card.
  2. Get your fingerprint scanned.
  3. Complete a customs declaration.
  4. And then you’ll be on your way to baggage claim! 

The enrollment process is understandably more rigorous for Global Entry than TSA PreCheck®, but it follows the same blueprint: you’ll fill out an application online, schedule an appointment at a Global Entry enrollment center for a background check and pay a $100 fee. Your membership is good for five years and TSA PreCheck® is automatically included!

Don’t forget your passport!

While prepping for travel with TSA PreCheck®, you may also want to double-check that your passport is up to date. Passports must be valid for six months after your return date from international travel. With that in mind, it may be time for you to renew!

For passport application and renewal information, visit travel.state.gov for step-by-step instructions, or read our blog 7 Steps for Passport Application and Renewal. And don’t forget that your local AAA Travel store offers passport photo services at competitive pricing.

 

Rush My Passport - AAA Travel

Traveling soon and need your passport fast? Receive exclusive AAA rates on expedited passport courier service with RushMyPassport. This saves you time and a trip to the passport office with a personalized application review that catches common mistakes and speeds up processing times.

We also offer expedited travel visa services through RushMyPassport. You can double-check if a visa is required for your next trip, review country-specific requirements and get AAA exclusive rates with faster processing times.

Need help making vacation plans? 

Book a free appointment with a AAA Travel agent over the phone, virtually or in-person at your local AAA store. We’ll help you plan your dream vacation and find the best discounts and amenities while you focus on what matters most: making lifelong memories in extraordinary places.

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