TSA PreCheck and Kids

You already know airport security lines will be long and tedious this summer but maybe you’ve heard enrolling in the TSA PreCheck program is a good idea. It is. PreCheck provides a faster security experience for domestic travel (shoes stay on!) plus a shorter, designated screening lane at the checkpoint.

But what if you’re traveling with kids? Here’s what you should know (and you can see more on this in the video below).

LISTEN: Travel pro Rick Seaney knows allll about travel with kids.

PreCheck and Kids

PreCheck costs $85 for five years, but it also includes some children traveling with a PreCheck-enrolled parent or guardian at no extra cost. However, there are a couple of restrictions:

  • Only children aged 12-and-under can be included under an adult’s membership.
  • Children’s boarding passes must include a PreCheck indication, meaning tickets must be booked under the PreCheck-enrolled adult’s name.

Find more in the TSA’s PreCheck information pages.

Easier Security Without PreCheck

Something else to consider: All children 12-and-under get a streamlined security experience even when not traveling with a PreCheck parent. There is no cost.

What is included:

  • Shoes can stay on.
  • Light jackets and headwear can stay on.
  • Children can stay with parents/guardians at all times.

What is not included:

  • No designated security lane, so the children could still end up in a long line.

The TSA has more information on traveling with children.

Is the Cost of PreCheck Worth it for Families?

PreCheck for adults (and kids aged 13-and-older) costs $85; membership is good for five years. Let’s say one adult travels with two youngsters on one flight a year.

  • Cost per year: Less than $6 per person

Fly twice a year, and the cost is roughly the same as a bottle of water for all three.

Faster Lines for International Travelers

If you travel abroad much, consider Global Entry which helps avoid long lines at customs when returning to the U.S. Here’s what you should know:

  • Global Entry costs $100 for five years, but it does include PreCheck.
  • Children of any age must enroll in Global Entry as individuals; membership is not transferable to family members (or anyone else).

Prep the Kids for Security

If your child will be flying for the first time (or was too young to remember previous trips), prep the kid, and it’s easy.

  • Explain what will happen: the standing in line, putting backpacks and coins on the conveyor belt, going through the scanner.
  • Belongings will be returned: Be sure to say that while the backpack (or Teddy bear) will have to go on a conveyor belt, it will come out again on the other side.
  • Don’t be anxious: Talk about all this in a casual tone of voice and not an anxious one; if you treat it as a matter-of-fact procedure, so will your child.

FareCompare Video: Security, PreCheck and Kids.



Updated: June 8, 2016