Faster Security Lines can be Yours for Just $17 a Year

Good news for U.S. travelers who like to keep their shoes on: The TSA is now expanding its speedy PreCheck lanes which had been open only to certain elite flyers and members of government trusted traveler programs, and the $85 fee for this is good for five years ($17 per year). A TSA spokesman told FareCompare the money will be used by the security agency for administrative costs.

Listen as travel expert Rick Seaney describes his own personal PreCheck experiences:

Fly like a celebrity? Here's how

How PreCheck is Expanding

Until now, only elite frequent flyers with Alaska, American, Delta, United and US Airways could hope to receive an invitation to participate; others who were member of programs like Global Entry could also participate, for a fee. Now, TSA chief John Pistole says any U.S. citizen can participate if they agree to a background check, fingerprinting and the fee.

The TSA says the vetting process for would-be participants will take approximately 2-3 weeks and this new system will get underway in the fall with testing at just two airports, Washington Dulles and Indianapolis International. If all goes well, travelers will be able to zip through security lines at all 40 PreCheck airports nationwide (there are plans to add more airports).

Are you eligible for free PreCheck? Find out

Benefits to Passengers

Here's what you get for that $85 fee:

  • Use of dedicated PreCheck lanes
  • Keep shoes, belts and jackets on
  • Keep laptops in cases
  • Keep carry-on liquid zip bags in the carry-on

Children and PreCheck

Children aged 12 and under are already immune from certain security regulations such as removing their shoes but minors in general can access PreCheck lanes with parents; as a TSA spokesman told FareCompare, "We would never separate children from parents."

Will Every Traveler Benefit?

TSA chief John Pistole has said his goal is to get about 25% of the traveling public in PreCheck lanes to help speed up security lanes and focus more attention on "riskier or less-known travelers" and who knows? If enough people take advantage of PreCheck lanes, it stands to reason that the lines for other passengers will become less crowded – and maybe a little quicker.

Final Caution

Neither PreCheck nor any expedited security lines guarantees pre-vetted travelers won't get extra screening. Some of these passengers could be pulled from the lines for additional screening as part of the 'randomness' of airport security measures, and travelers should be prepared for this possibility.

Anne McDermott
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