TSA PreCheck Expanding To International Airlines

TSA PreCheck was introduced a while back, and at the time I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. It certainly revolutionized the airport experience for the road warrior at the time — you got access to a special lane, could leave your laptop and liquids in your bag, and could leave your shoes on.

And all of that is still the case, the only issue is that the “honeymoon” phase has worn off. Everyone and their dog now has access to PreCheck, which leads to two problems:

  • If you’re traveling during “road warrior” hours at a major airport, the PreCheck queue is often the longest at the airport
  • Nowadays lots of people that don’t understand how PreCheck works have access to the queue, which slows it down considerably as they try to take off their shoes, remove everything from their bags, etc.

It’s still useful, just not what it once was. I always do find it mildly amusing how on a Monday mornings at major airports eligible PreCheck passengers will walk to the front of the PreCheck line and bitch endlessly about how everyone else has PreCheck as well… much like I’m doing here. šŸ˜‰

Originally TSA PreCheck was only valid for domestic itineraries, and then around May of last year it became valid for international itineraries. Even so, it continued to only remain valid for travel on US airlines.

The Associated Press published an article today about how TSA PreCheck is now expanding to international airlines. Air Canada today became the first airline to participate, with others expected to follow soon. Apparently in order to participate, airlines need to update their computer systems so that they can add extra information to barcodes and also add the PreCheck logo.

I certainly have friends that have purchased a refundable domestic ticket just to get through security with PreCheck when flying an international carrier, and then refunded the ticket once past security. Guess that won’t be necessary for them anymore!


  1. After PreCheck was opened initially to educated top tier travelers, and then to “interviewed and trained” global entry travelers, I have never understood how PreCheck was opened up to those that did not even get trained on how it works!

    Two weeks ago, a friend/traveling companion, a novice traveler without Precheck on his boarding pass was directed to the precheck lane right behind me. I did not even notice until after I was through that my friend was still right behind me.

  2. I think what would help more than anything is if someone put together and posted a “how to” for using Pre-Check. I can’t find one anywhere on the Internet. Maybe a friendly blogger would do that to help educate and speed up the process! šŸ˜‰

  3. It was recently added to the tiny airport I fly out of (SBP). Just one security lane, but if you have Pre they then explain that you don’t need to do this and that. Then the person behind you, not Pre, is all confused so they have to explain what everyone else has to do. Then back again for the next Pre flyer. Pretty much a mess. Especially when it’s one TSA dude checking, explaining, and operating the machine.

  4. Wait, wait. So you’re telling me there are people out there who view the hassle of waiting 10 minutes with the normals in the international security line to be > than the hassle of purchasing and then later refunding a domestic refundable ticket?

  5. Pre check has become a money maker to TSA. They are now promoting it so hard that it looks like a sales pitch from those kiosks you have in the middle of the malls with people almost grabbing you by the hand so you can listen to their pitch. What used to be a benefit of those who fly a lot is now the norm so soon it will be better to not have TSA pre check so you can go to normal empty lines, take your shoes off, empty your bags and still get to the gate before people in the pre check line.

  6. How does someone go through the process of registering for PreCheck, paying the money, and not understand what they’re getting and how it works?

  7. I have PreCheck because I fly pretty regularly and have yet to see a line more than 10 people long while regular security can be 1 hr+. Usually, I’m the only one in the PreCheck line.

  8. @TravelinWilly: same when people get the latest gadget and have no clue how to use it and why they need it. They just like to have the latest.

  9. These are good news.

    The power of GE was on display for me at IAH this past Sunday. I was returning from Paris on AF with only carry-on. Was able to skip the passport control line (which looked to be mobbed and about 60-90 minute wait). There must have been about 6 planes that came in at the same time and only 3 or 4 agents to process them.

    But then there was getting through customs. That line was again about an hour, but GE allowed me to use a special line. It took me longer to walk past all those waiting than it did to get past customs.

  10. @Santastico

    Yeah, I guess you’re right. It’s not the the cost part that baffles me, it’s that they’d take the time to fill out an application, show up for an interview, get fingerprinted, etc., and to do this without knowing why they’re spending time doing this is mystifying to me. I see the term “opportunity cost” incorrectly used on some travel blog sites (not this one), but in this case there is *real* lost, measurable opportunity cost in terms of time. Then again, maybe I’m just more sensitive to that.

  11. I’ll explain how I am in PreCheck and haven’t been trained in its use – it’s easy: I applied for Global Entry – once interviewed and enrolled in that program, the last thing they mentioned was, ‘Oh, yeah, there’s a thing called precheck you’re automatically in now, as well, but it’s run by TSA, not us, visit TSA’s website for more info. and direct any questions to them.’

  12. I have REPEATEDLY (ie, at three different airports in about four days) seen times when there is maybe 1 person or 2 people in the “regular” lanes, and a backup of 10-20 people at the Pre-Check lane. Mostly because they’ve greatly expanded the number of people who can get it…but still only have one guy checking documents for Pre-Check, and four or five lanes open for regular. Drives me nuts.

  13. The problem here is Managed Inclusion.

    “Hi there, elderly person who rarely flies! You look low risk, so welcome to the PreCheck lane. No, you don’t have to remove your shoes. No, you don’t have to take your Ziploc bag of liquids out. No, you don’t have to take your electronics out. No, you don’t have to take your jacket or belt off. All you have to do is take your phone out and put it in a dish. Look at how efficient this all is!”

  14. Even if I have to wait a little bit longer, I still appreciate the benefits of PreCheck (esp. not having to undress). Although, had good luck on my flights to/from FTU with almost no lines (5 in line @ IAH and 0 @ SEA).

  15. Global Entry is beginning to get popular too. Last two times I had to help newbies with the kiosks, which has never happened to me before.

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