Enrollment directly in TSA Pre-Check will soon be possible

TSA Pre-Check is a pretty awesome program that takes us back a bit over 10 years, and by that I mean to the days of hassle free security. Yes, you’re still subject to the ridiculous liquids ban, but at least you get to leave your shoes on and can leave your laptop and liquids in your bag. They even recently improved the program by making international itineraries eligible for Pre-Check, which wasn’t the case prior to that.

Up until now the two ways to enroll for TSA Pre-Check have been either directly through an airline’s frequent flyer program (typically limited to elite members) or to be enrolled in Global Entry, SENTRI, or NEXUS.

Later this year the TSA will add a third method to be eligible for TSA Pre-Check, and that’s by enrolling directly in the Pre-Check program. US citizens will be able to apply online and visit an enrollment site to provide identification and fingerprints. Initially there will be two enrollment sites — one at Indianapolis Airport (yeah, I know, WTF?) and one at Washington Dulles Airport, with plans to expand the program later on. The catch is that a five year enrollment will cost $85.

While the idea is nice in theory, enrolling through Global Entry if you have a credit card that waives the fee is still a much better deal. If paying out of pocket the best deal remains applying for NEXUS, which costs just $50, and makes you eligible for Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check.

So I suppose this is a nice idea for someone that’s not an airline elite and doesn’t have a passport. But with the limited enrollment centers to start and high fees, I doubt many people will take advantage of this.

Comments

  1. Since I got Global Entry, I’ve never missed getting buzzed through for Pre-Check. Thanks for the free GE, United!

  2. High fees? How much is your time worth to you? Global entry is the best money I’ve ever spent. It’s a bargain at 5-10x the price.

  3. @ Studio253 — Oh, I agree it’s an absolute bargain, but I’m saying for someone without a passport that doesn’t have elite status it isn’t all that cheap, not just in terms of the enrollment fee, but also in terms of having to go to one of the centers for verification/fingerprints. Just think that a vast majority of people will still have access through Global Entry/NEXUS and through frequent flyer status.

  4. Be aware that, amid all the hype about Global Entry, those of us who reside in the States but aren’t citizens are ineligible. So TSA-Pre is our only option (technically we’re ineligible for that, too, but… well, let’s just say that’s a rule that goes unobserved.)

  5. Just to add to Josh’s comment – the only way to be eligible for Pre-check (if you are not a US Citizen) is to be invited by the airline. I have GE too but stopped clearing Pre-Check once I put in my GE number in my airline profile. I think all the posts about GE guaranteeing Pre-Check should come with that caveat (citizens only).

  6. Agree – PreCheck via UA paying for our Global Entry made flying almost enjoyable again! At first I debated the value of driving 4 hours to LAX for the Global Entry interview, but that first time I landed in SFO right behind an A380 made it worthwhile!

  7. So if I enroll in Nexus ( I am a US Citizen and have a passport)- I will automatically be eligible for TSA pre-check? Or is there still a fee for pre-check?

  8. @ Marion — If you have NEXUS you’ll have a Known Traveler Number, and if you enter that in your itineraries you’d have access to Pre-Check.

  9. TSA apparently doesn’t realize that people need to clear security connecting from international legs to domestic ones. I fly NRT-LAX-SMF and LHR-LAX-SMF all the time, at least 20 times, and have never once been selected for pre-check at LAX despite having global entry.

  10. @ Corey — Do you have your Known Traveler Number in the itineraries? If so, you should be getting Pre-Check a vast majority of the time.

  11. The main way for Canadian citizens to get PreCheck is via NEXUS. NEXUS is also the best tool for travel if you go between Canada and the USA often.

  12. Hey, don’t be too hard on IND, they are a nice mid-size, Midwest airport and typically very efficient. The day after the Indy 500 the security lines literally fly through (what would choke most mid-size airports) and get people on their way. I also vote for GE; ever experience Immigration after the computer systems have crashed and they are trying to get them operational again? Luckily the GE kiosks seem to keep running.

  13. I travel almost every week, I am Canadian with a Nexus card and I never been able to use a pre check lane and all my info is updated with each airline…so what’s wrong??

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