Going through security is necessary, but it probably isn’t your favorite part of traveling.
Travel and tourism in the United States is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels in 2022, which means lines to be screened by the TSA will start to get longer again at busy airports.
TSA PreCheck® may be right for you if you want to skip that line and make your travel process as simple as possible. The program is part of the Department of Homeland Security and it makes security screening at the airport more streamlined for travelers.
Here’s what you need to know about TSA PreCheck® to determine if it’s worth the cost to you.
WHAT IS TSA PRECHECK®?
With TSA PreCheck®, travelers get access to a dedicated, expedited security screening lane at more than 200 airports in the U.S.
To be a member, you have to apply and be categorized as a low-risk traveler. If approved, you’ll get a Known Traveler Number. When you use this number when you book flights, a TSA PreCheck® indicator will be on your boarding pass. This is what allows you to move through the separate TSA PreCheck® line at the airport.
With TSA PreCheck®, the process of going through security is much easier. You can leave on your shoes, light outerwear, and belt. At South Bend International Airport, TSA installed new 3D scanners that allow all passengers to keep their laptops and liquids in their bags. At airports without these scanners, TSA PreCheck® allows you to keep your laptop and your 3-1-1 compliant liquids and gels in your carry-on. (Pro tip: If you really want to simplify your travel experience, avoid checked luggage by trying to pack everything you need in your carry-on.)
Being a TSA PreCheck® passenger can also save you time. In February 2022, 94% of people with TSA PreCheck® waited less than five minutes to get through security. That can be especially relieving when traveling home from large airports.
If you often travel as a family, keep in mind that children who are 12 or younger can join you in the TSA PreCheck® lanes. Children older than 12 will need to apply for TSA PreCheck® to get access to the expedited security screening.
The TSA PreCheck® application costs $85 and is valid for five years before it needs to be renewed. At only $17 per year, TSA PreCheck® is well worth the investment.
Even if you just travel once a year, that’s a cost of $8.50 per airport for expedited security screening. If you travel frequently, TSA PreCheck® becomes even more cost-effective. For many people, the price is worth the ease and convenience TSA PreCheck® provides.
There are also credit cards and loyalty programs that will cover the $85 fee.
HOW TO APPLY FOR TSA PRECHECK®
Enrollment in TSA PreCheck® is open to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. You should begin the application process online, then schedule an appointment at one of the enrollment centers.
When you head to an enrollment center — there’s one conveniently located in Mishawaka — you’ll need to provide some documentation like a valid ID and proof of citizenship. Use the TSA’s online required documents tool to find out what you need to bring based on your background. The in-person portion includes fingerprinting for a background check.
If you’re approved, you’ll likely receive your Known Traveler Number in three to five days. This process can take up to 90 days, though, according to the TSA. Allow plenty of time to get approved before your next trip.
TRAVEL WITH EASE
If you value a quick and easy travel experience, you’ll love us here at South Bend International Airport. Our airport is easy to navigate and focused on keeping you safe.
We offer nonstop flights to twelve destinations with connections worldwide. To book your next trip with us, check out the airlines who fly with us.