TSA Security PreCheck Does Not Always Mean Faster Security

Not long ago, FareCompare heard from a woman who paid the $85 to sign up for PreCheck which involved fingerprinting and a brief interview. “It was so quick,” she told us. The anonymous traveler added that she was absolutely delighted with the faster security experience (shoes stay on, a quick walk through a metal detector).

How to sign-up for PreCheck

However, when she went to the airport for her most recent flight, she complained she was barred from the PreCheck line. Her faster security disappeared. What happened?

PreCheck is Never Guaranteed

PreCheck members almost always get quick lines and easy in-and-out at security checkpoints, but here’s the thing: There are no guarantees. As the TSA website reminds us, “TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed [special] screening” – yes, even those who paid to enroll.

Think about it. If any bad guys – including terrorists – knew that PreCheck screening was a sure-thing, they might figure out ways to thwart what security measures it does incorporate. In any event, the “randomness” keeps us all on our toes.

One more thought: PreCheck is at more than 100 airports now, but not all. Is any of this a reason not to enroll? It is not.

Why PreCheck is Worth It

Many PreCheck members tell us they have never gotten pulled into the slower lanes – while others who weren’t members did get PreCheck once or twice (again, randomness at work). Here’s why it’s worth it:

  • Shoes and light jackets stay on.
  • Laptops can remain in cases.
  • Liquids/toiletries can stay in carry-on bags.
  • Pass through metal detector.

Did you know? Children 12 and under and older travelers 75 and up also get the PreCheck experience without enrolling.


Published: April 16, 2014