TSA Pre-check is now available at my airport! Except that I can’t use it. Lame.

A couple of years ago, I got an email from American inviting me to participate in a pilot program of some new expedited security system called “TSA Pre-check”. I was interested enough to read about it on the TSA website. It sounded very interesting, but I didn’t travel to any of the airports where it was available and declined to participate.

Over the last two years, I’ve followed the progress of TSA Pre-check. Frequent travelers from all over the country like it a lot, and I knew that when it was more widely available I would participate. Until recently, it still didn’t have a presence at any of the airports I frequented, so I wasn’t too concerned about it. Until a few weeks ago, when I flew to Nashville. I saw signs that it was going to be offered in my home airport and two others that I frequent often! I decided to apply immediately. Except that, as much as I searched, I couldn’t find the “application”. I looked all over the American Airlines website and the TSA website, but my Google-fu failed me. Finally I called American, and was told that unfortunately I wasn’t eligible anymore. However, I could participate in Pre-check if I participated in Global Entry.  BTW, in case you don’t know, the fee for applying for Global Entry is a non-refundable $100.

I am pretty irritated. Should I be? Is Pre-check really that awesome? Of course it would be nice to not have to take my shoes off or laptop out of my bag, but should I be all up in arms? It just seems silly that you have to either be invited or pay to be a part of the program.

Oh, and the other good news American gave me was that I can easily get my Platinum status back for the low, low rate of $750. Lucky me! /sarcasm

Readers, what have your TSA Pre-check experiences been? Is it worth paying for? Is there a loophole that I missed?

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Comments

  1. Global Entry rocks. It’s $100 for FIVE years. Would you pay $20 a year not to have to wait in line after coming home from an international trip? I would (and I did). TSA pre-check is an added bonus. I fly out of LAX and have gone though it there and it’s awesome. You don’t have to undress to go through security and the line is way shorter.
    If you fly a lot it’s totally worth it.

  2. Are you insane? Of course it’s that awesome. Plus, once you have Global Entry, you can get through customs much faster when you travel internationally. The first time you get to go through the Pre-check lane and you’re in and out of there in 45 seconds, the sting of the money will vanish. Believe me.

  3. I have nothing good to say about any of the payoffs to lessen the agony of going through the Totally Stupid Area…. If you remember what happened with CLEAR, all of that is suspect in my book. Who stores your information and how?
    However, on the $750 to keep platinum… personally I think that is a pretty good deal. BIS miles would cost a heck of alot more.

  4. Trusted Traveller and Global Entry is well worth the $100 fee. When you consider that the TSA-Pre will expand to many airports in the future it is well worth the fee. The ability to pass through security quickly is well worth $100 and the time involved to get it. BUT, please talk it down because if many more like you balk at the fee then it will not be jammed up by too may travelers.

  5. TSA Pre is awesome. Even if you do not travel internationally to take advantage of GE, still worth the $100 to get TSA Pre.

  6. I have it and can honestly say it is completely worth it for domestic and international travel. Domestically to not remove laptop or take of shoes is awesome. After a long international flight, to not have to fill out the blue paper or wait on a long line–priceless, or $100 for 5 years 🙂

    AMEX Platinum will reimburse the fee for EACH authorized platinum card (so if you have a spouse with a linked plat. card, you can both get reimbursed)

  7. Pre-check is def worth it. Saves 30 min on Monday morning at DFW. Imagine – dont remove your shoes, toiletries or laptop! reminds me of the 1980’s….. Amex plat card makes global entry free then you automatically qualify for pre-check on all major airlines. Do it!

  8. When you get through security on the day before Thanksgiving in less than 5 minutes, you will see what is so great about it. Get global entry and precheck immediately!

  9. I can get you through TSA with Pre-Check for free. All you have to do is come down to the recruiters’ office with me, sign a few papers, and raise your right hand…

    Alternatively, if you earn 1K on UA they will pay for your Global Entry.

    Glenn

  10. I’m glad you think the $750 fee for being reinstated as a plat on American is too expensive – one less person standing in line in front of me or taking premium seats out of inventory . . .

  11. The AA TSA offering is definitely tied to AA Platinum status (or Global Entry etc.). If you don’t expect to fly AA much, then Global Entry is the way to go. If you are looking to fly AA a lot the coming year, buying the status continuation may be worth it. I have a feeling that their price is pretty well matched to the average value for their recently elite customers.

  12. There are many programs that will reimburse you for Global Entry, Amex Platinum, United – as of Sept 2012, was reimbursing not only 1k, but also Platinum, etc…

    I love it, but I also travel a ton internationally. The fee is totally worth it. If you travel internationally there are some new benefits as well, I can use the card in Australia to go into a special lane at customs and bypass the huge queue. I also have the same in the Netherlands. They’re adding more countries as well.

  13. Depending on how your airport is arranged, you don’t necessarily get to jump the line without airline status, but a growing number of airports are putting the preCheck entrance in a seperate location, so you’ll benefit from the shortened wait as well. Don’t know if it’s worth the cost just for preCheck, but if you travel abroad, GE is definitely a worthwhile investment.

  14. Pre-check is great and so is trusted traveller. Nexus is the cheapest way to get in (pretty sure at least), plus you get dedicated lanes at some Canadian airports, as well. Global Entry is really great to have, too. Overall, 5 years for $50, and a fun visit to see the family in Vancouver was well worth it to me. But it obviously isn’t the same value to everyone.

    Also, without it I wouldn’t risk ducking out of PDX for some breakfast and Voodoo doughnuts tomorrow morning during my layover!

  15. I have NEXUS, which also gets me Global Entry. Either is worth it, but NEXUS is cheaper and lets you travel easily into Canada.

    Global Entry gets you kiosk entry into the US and (oddly) Australia, and a special lane in New Zealand. The best part of re-entering the US is that you spend 30 seconds at the kiosk, grab your bag, walk up the crew/GE lane and hand the receipt to the customs guy. No talking, no nothing.

    TSA Pre, which you get with GE is AWESOME. Even if you are selected for “random” screening you go to the front of the normal security line. I returned from NZ two weeks ago, walked past the several hundred people waiting for security to the TSA Pre guy. Now, I know you can’t TSA Pre from international flights, *but* you go to the front of the normal security line. Saved me hours that I then spent drinking free booze in the United Club!

    Seriously – if you live near the Canadian border apply for Nexus (you need to do an interview at the border) or if not apply for global entry. The $50 (Nexus) or $100 (GE) for 5 years of removing hassle is *SO* worth it.

  16. I love my nexus (and resulting PreCheck on airlines without status). I’m only technically eligible for pre on Delta due to status, but consistently get the three beeps on US and AA because of Nexus.

  17. I got Pre-Check for free…I fly the same cross-country route on UA every week, though. I’m a new reader, so I’m not sure what airline(s) you generally fly – but Pre-Check eligibility is done by your airline, NOT by airport/TSA. If you fly UA, for instance, you can ask them to put you on the Pre-Check list. You might not get it right away (took me a little while), but it’s better than getting outright rejected by AA.

  18. Funny – I just applied for Global Entry this morning just so I could get TSA Pre. My boss used it last week while we were traveling together and he saved the 15 minutes I wasted in line. Even with Preferred Access through AA and Priority through UA, lines are not getting shorter – now anyone with airline affiliated credit cards are getting the perks of quicker lines but with so many people taking advantage, those lines aren’t short anymore.

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