If you fly more than once a year, you’ve probably considered getting TSA PreCheck. At the very least, you’ve stared wistfully into their near-empty line, or maybe snarled at them because they didn’t have to take off their shoes and you did. How did they even get TSA PreCheck anyway?
Until recently, we too were under the impression that those with TSA PreCheck were the select few, handpicked because of what? Their minimal threat level? Travel frequency? Kindness to flight attendants? We were as wrong as it gets. Turns out anyone can apply for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, as long as you’re willing to pay the fee ($85 and $100 respectively) for a five-year membership.
Also, it’s not even an arduous process. We know we’re starting to sound like we’re sponsored by TSA, but we aren’t. We just exist to make your travel life easier, and guess what would make your travel life easier… TSA PreCheck. (And Global Entry if you travel internationally.) Here are all the reasons why you need to be PreChecked before you set foot in an airport again.
1. You get to keep your shoes on.
This doesn’t seem like a big deal. After all, kids and elderly folks already get to do this. Why not just wait till you’re old enough to keep your shoes on? Well, one, that’s probably a long time; two, keeping your shoes on keeps your dignity intact in a way you could not have previously predicted. Suddenly, you are a cool, smart person in shoes, surrounded by a bunch of regular people in socks. You don’t have to bend over and hastily shove your feet back into your shoes at the other end of the line. You can wear sandals with sixteen individual straps, or work boots, or you could buy a whole new hard-to-take-off pair of shoes just for this. That’s really something.
2. You get to keep your laptop and liquids in your bag.
Again, this seems like a very minor inconvenience, but when you’re in the middle of a long security line with pushy people behind you and slow people in front of you, suddenly it’s a huge pain. Where did I put my toiletry bag? Why do my shampoos have to be in a separate bag? And ugh, I already carefully packed my laptop in a safe spot! Also, could that person in front of me be any slower? But with TSA PreCheck, you don’t have to take out a thing. This is what freedom feels like.
3. It is actually very easy to get TSA PreCheck.
And it’s getting even easier. You used to have to go to select airports to enroll. Then, DMVs became available as interview locations. Now, even Staples offers interview slots at select locations (and more to come.)
All you have to do is register online, fill out a quick form, and make an appointment. At your interview, you’ll need to present your passport (or photo ID and birth certificate if you don’t have a passport), scan your fingerprints, and then you’re done. Quick. Painless.
4. Your mental load immediately decreases by 60%.
The purpose of TSA PreCheck is that they are screening you ahead of time so they don’t have to spend as much time screening you at the airport. That’s why they do a background check at your interview. This not only means that it takes less time for you to be screened at the airport, but also that you are given priority because you’ve already done the work of being pre-screened. This is why there’s never really a TSA PreCheck line, because it takes less time to get through security, and PreCheck folks get to go into a line of their own, separate from those without it.
This is amazing because that part of your brain that won’t stop worrying that you’ll miss your flight calms down significantly when you don’t have to wait in security lines. It feels great to arrive at the airport with the confidence that those long security lines you see aren’t for you.
5. You can skip customs with Global Entry.
TSA PreCheck works at 150 airports across the United States, enough for most travelers who usually travel domestically. But, if you pull out your passport as often as your carry-on, you might be interested in Global Entry, which is designed to get you through U.S. Customs quickly and works in some other major hubs around the world. There’s a complete list here.
Getting Global Entry is a slightly more involved process, with an in-person interview offered at fewer locations than TSA PreCheck offers. However, it is absolutely worth it if you’re a frequent world traveler. Your lines are shorter, and they ask you fewer Customs questions. Global Entry even expedites your entry at the Canadian and Mexican borders too. You just have to make sure you have your Global Entry card with you.
6. You get two-for-one.
Global Entry also gives you TSA PreCheck for all domestic flights. So, if you’re considering getting both, you only need to go through the process of getting it and paying for it once. There are ways to apply for free if you have certain travel credit cards or frequent flyer programs (this article lays out those options).
When booking your flight (domestic or international), you’ll need to enter your Known Traveler Number that you got when you were approved for the program. This marks your boarding pass as TSA PreChecked and then you’re good to go.
A final note about Global Entry: While with TSA PreCheck any child under 12 is allowed to go through the PreCheck line with you, Global Entry at US Customs is different. Every individual who goes through the Global Entry line has to have applied separately. If you’re traveling with a group, we recommend that everyone in your party has Global Entry so you can go through Customs together. If not, be prepared to wait if the non-Global Entry line is longer than yours was.
Once you’ve been approved for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, we’re here to make your hotel booking experience straightforward and simple. When you visit roomkey.com, you’ll find easy-to-navigate search results and all the information you need, presented in a way that makes sense. At Roomkey, we get straight to the truth so you can get straight to your travel.