TSA Will Finally Let Travelers Do This, Starting Now
If you've been debating whether to enroll in this program, now's the time.
Both frequent and sporadic travelers know that airport security can be a breeze or a nightmare. Sometimes there's a short wait and no stress, and other times the line goes straight to the back of the terminal and there's a nagging fear you won't make it to your gate on time. If you feel like you've had more experience with the latter, you might be interested to learn that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced a new policy that could help you save some time when going through security. Read on to find out what TSA will now let you do, effective immediately.
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PreCheck is a welcome addition to your boarding pass.
First established in 2013, TSA PreCheck is a coveted asset to have when setting out on a trip. By registering for PreCheck, you can avoid some hassle associated with security: You don't have to take off your shoes, belt, or light jacket, and you can leave your laptop and liquids securely inside your carry-on. You even get to file into a designated PreCheck screening lane.
According to a Nov. 4 press release from the agency, PreCheck connects "low-risk travelers with security tailored to their TSA PreCheck status and a better air travel experience." TSA already makes it pretty simple to schedule an in-person enrollment appointment online, where you're fingerprinted and provide the required information. If you're approved, you then receive a Known Travel Number (typically in three to five days) that can then be used when making your travel reservations for five years.
Of course, something as convenient as PreCheck doesn't come for free, but ahead of the holiday season, TSA is hoping to make things a bit more affordable.
If you've been waiting to sign up, take advantage of a new change.
In the November release, TSA announced that IDEMIA, the current provider for PreCheck, will allow you to enroll and renew the service at a reduced rate. According to the release, the enrollment and in-person renewal fee has seen a $7 discount, going from $85 per person to $78. If you choose to renew online, the price will stay the same, at $70. The change is timed ahead of the holidays, when many of us will be boarding flights to visit friends and loved ones.
"For individuals and families with plans to fly this holiday season, now is the time to enroll or renew in TSA PreCheck," TSA administrator David Pekoske said in the release. "TSA PreCheck offers significant benefits to those who meet its enrollment standards—less physical contact, fewer items on the conveyor belt and faster screening."
You'll save both time and money with PreCheck.
Per the press release, in September, approximately 93 percent of TSA PreCheck passengers waited under five minutes to get through security at airports nationwide. If this sounds appealing to you, you can visit tsa.gov/precheck for additional information and take advantage of the discounted fees.
Airports and airlines dealt with ample stress—and backlash—during the busy summer travel season, and they're anticipating similar struggles throughout the holidays. According to data from TSA, the number of people screened at U.S. airports is already exceeding pre-pandemic levels. On Sunday, 2,390,132 passengers went through TSA checkpoints, while 2,356,349 people were screened on the same day in 2019. It marked the second day in a row of higher travel figures, as 1,917,434 people were screened on Nov. 5, compared with 1,908,805 on Nov. 5, 2019.
These aren't the only changes that TSA has made recently.
While a discount on PreCheck is certainly welcome, TSA has also recently made the program more inclusive. In July, the security agency confirmed that travelers can choose "X" as a gender marker when applying for PreCheck, The Points Guy reported. Plans to introduce another gender marker were first announced on March 31, marking the International Transgender Day of Visibility.
"TSA remains committed to ensuring all travelers are treated with respect and dignity," Pekoske said in a statement when the change was enacted, per The Points Guy. "This new TSA PreCheck enrollment feature reaffirms our commitment to equality and inclusion for all people, including the LGBTQI+ community."
Travelers already enrolled in the program can call and have their gender changed, although all applicants are still required to enroll with their legal name. Taking things a step further, TSA is also updating the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) at security checkpoints to avoid using gender-based screening methods and introducing less-invasive pat-down screenings for those who trigger AIT alarms.