TSA PreCheck printed on your boarding pass is always a welcome sight to see.
TSA PreCheck typically means guaranteed expedited screening in the TSA PreCheck lane and a less invasive security checkpoint.
You obtain TSA PreCheck one of two ways, either you paid for it, or they selected you.
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) PreCheck is a prescreening Trusted Traveler program that reviews passenger data prior to air travel to assess risk. It is a paid program associated with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that you can apply for, but sometimes you can get TSA PreCheck without paying if they believe you are a safe person.
TSA PreCheck for Participating Travelers
Frequent flyers may consider applying for TSA PreCheck status. It is a paid program that will screen your information prior to your travel day to assess your overall risk as a passenger on your flight.
The application fee is $85, and you only need to renew it every five years.
And by submitting to the prior screening at the enrollment center, you get some benefits when you fly with a participating airline. Passengers with TSA PreCheck boarding passes do not need to remove outerwear, shoes, and belts for TSA agents, and they can leave their laptops in their carry-on bags.
In addition, TSA PreCheck has its own expedited security checkpoint line that is usually much shorter than the general public line. This streamlined security process will often shorten the overall wait time through security at most airports for both domestic and international flights.
You also get a Global Entry card, which gives you expedited clearance when coming into the US.
Plus, when you sign-up, you get a Known Traveler Number to help identify you at the PreCheck line. This number is an important part of your frequent flyer account, so be careful not to lose it.
Randomly Assigned TSA PreCheck
If you did not apply for TSA PreCheck, but you notice the TSA PreCheck stamp on your boarding pass, the TSA believes you are a secure traveler, usually, because you are a frequent flyer. Thus, they gave you a free TSA PreCheck.
As a “PreCheck-for-a-day” passenger, you get all the same conveniences as a paying member, including screening benefits. But, you should always check your eligibility with a TSA officer first.
Also, when you receive TSA PreCheck for just one trip, you do not pay anything for the added benefit.
The TSA assigns PreCheck status to prescreened passengers who are low risk. This random selection is essentially their way of marketing the PreCheck program to their desired customer base.
By granting you the privilege for free for one trip, the hope is that you enjoy the perks and pay for the full subscription or one of the other DHS Trusted Traveler programs.
TSA PreCheck is an excellent program for frequent travelers to get through security faster at participating airlines. Enrollment is easy, and you can usually get to join as long as you give valid information and have never committed any serious crimes.
However, some people are lucky enough to receive the service for a day because the TSA and the DHS believe they are not flight risks.