First, make sure that you know that just because you have a Known Traveler number on file with your airline does not mean that you automatically get Pre-check. This is incredibly frustrating—I guess I get the logic behind it (kind of), but it is lame that I can’t build the assumed time savings into my plan for what time to leave for the airport.
Second, just because you get to go through the Pre-check line doesn’t mean you will automatically get all the components associated with Pre-check. For example, last week I was flying another unusual airline (JetBlue), which has its gates near a different security line than I usually go through. The line is much smaller, and only has two lanes for baggage screening. Since I was there during an off-peak time, only one screening lane was open. While I got to go through the expedited line to show my ID and boarding pass, there was no special baggage screening line. I was able to keep my shoes on and go through the metal detector instead of the body scanner, but I had to take my laptop out of my carryon. Luckily, I wasn’t flying with two laptops this time, as I was super short on time and barely made it to my gate before a conference call. But it had never occurred to me that not all Pre-check lines are the same!
Finally, if you realize that you have forgotten to put your Known Traveler number into your airline’s website, you can do it at the counter when you check in. If the first person you talk to doesn’t know how to do it, ask someone else. I was able to have both Southwest and JetBlue agents add it for me. Luckily, the lines were short and I didn’t have to wait too long.
For those of you who don’t have Global Entry and are interested in applying for Pre-check, they have opened a new interview center at Dulles. However, I still think Global Entry (or Nexus!) is the better deal.
Readers, have you had any surprising experiences with TSA Pre-check?