TSA PreCheck Security Fails and How to Avoid Them

It’s rare, but it happens: For some reason your TSA PreCheck membership does not get you in the faster, shoes-stay-on security line. What’s the problem? As the Los Angeles Times reports, it might be you.

LISTEN: Travel expert Rick Seaney has been there.

TSA PreCheck Security Fails: Wrong Number

After you enroll in PreCheck ($85 for five years), your next boarding pass should have the letters TSA PRE printed in the upper left-hand corner. If not, something went wrong and the problem often involves the Known Traveler Number (KTN) given upon joining PreCheck.

One veteran flier told the LA Times he joined PreCheck but wasn’t getting the service until he finally took another look at his online travel reservations and saw that he himself had entered the wrong KTN. If this happens to you, don’t feel bad; the traveler who goofed is Nico Melendez, a TSA agent, who once told FareCompare that he once tried to bring a large bottle of water through security. “Yes, I did know better,” he said, “Everyone knows. I just forgot.” The bottle of water was dumped. No special exceptions are made for travelers even if they are TSA agents.

TSA PreCheck Security Fails: No Number

If you don’t enter your Known Traveler Number when  you make your reservations, there’s no way to know you’re a member of PreCheck and you won’t get it, simple as that.

TSA PreCheck Security Fails: Random Screening

Even with PreCheck, there is the possibility that you could be pulled aside for random screening. This is part of the process though and not really a fail; while it’s rare, it happens.

TSA PreCheck Fail: Not Paying Attention

Folks are still selected for random PreCheck screening but many  are unaware of it. Check the upper left-hand corner of your boarding pass for TSA PRE. If it’s there, go to the fast line. We’ve heard several stories of travelers who did not notice this until they’d already waited in the long line for several minutes.

Is TSA PreCheck Security Still Worth It? Yes.

Generally speaking, it is a much faster way to get through security, and could ease a lot of the hassle of flying – especially during holidays and other peak travel periods including Spring Break and summer.


Updated: November 9, 2015