TSA Pre?™ comes on the heels of other pre-approved security organizations similar to Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI. For those not familiar with TSA Pre?™, here is a quick overview:
What is TSA PreCheck?
For an $85 fee, a background check, and an interview, you have access to faster moving lines, and quicker security screening. There is no removal of belts, shoes, and lightweight jackets. Liquids and laptops stay in your carry-on bag. TSA Pre?™ began its program in December of 2013. Six months later, many wonder, “Is it worth the money?”
How I used TSA PreCheck
I used to travel to Canada quite a bit and signed up for a NEXUS card, background check and interview included. This allowed me to expedite my way through customs in a separate line. Because of my NEXUS card, I was automatically enrolled in the TSA Pre?™ program.
In the beginning, I was ecstatic over the ease and speed of going through the security lines. It was like having status with the TSA just like I had with my airline priority status. But soon, airlines began issuing random TSA Pre?™ clearance to random passengers, which may have been nice for the traveler receiving this random service, but not for the rest of us.
I found myself stuck behind people who still took off their jackets and shoes, and took out their laptop, and liquids. TSA agents would advise travelers to put their items back into their bags, and put their jackets back on. The lines were often slower because of the double duties of unpacking and repacking personal belongings. A couple of times, people said, “Wow, you were randomly chosen for TSA Pre?™–aren’t you lucky?” When in reality, I wanted to say, “I made my own luck by paying for this service.”
So back to my original question: Is it worth it? My opinion is yes!
The good: Most of the time, the TSA Pre?™ lines are faster than the regular lines. I have shortened my overall travel time knowing I can leave later from my home since the TSA line will be shorter.
The bad: There are inexperienced travelers in the TSA Pre?™ lines. If I need to wait for an inexperienced traveler, I figure they will soon learn the ropes and either sign up for this service on their own or know what to do the next time they are randomly chosen.
The ugly: The upcoming summer season is when travel is at its peak. It will be interesting to see if TSA will keep the Pre?™ lines moving quickly or if they will be used as overflow for the additional travelers. Either way, I will simply allow extra time just in case lines are longer than usual, and keep my fingers crossed I have a speedy security check.
For more information on the TSA Precheck program, you can visit their website at TSA.gov.