Five ways to jump the line
While no traveler, even if enrolled, is guaranteed access to the PreCheck line 100% of the time, there are five ways to ensure travelers have the best possible chance of gaining access when they travel.
1. Join a Trusted Traveler program.
There are four Trusted Traveler programs that include PreCheck Benefits.
One is the TSA PreCheck program, which is available to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. For $85, travelers receive a five-year membership.
NEXUS and SENTRI also provide access to PreCheck benefits. NEXUS ($50 for a five-year membership) also provides expedited processing at the U.S. and Canada borders, while SENTRI ($122.25 for a five-year membership) provides access to faster lanes at Customs and Border Protection.
Travelers do not need a passport to enroll in any of those three programs.
A passport is required, however, for Global Entry, which also allows expedited processing through Customs and Border Protection at airports and land borders in seven countries (the U.K., Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Panama, Germany, and the Netherlands). It is available for U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and citizens of other countries.
2. Work for the Department of Defense.
Active duty military personnel, who are all thoroughly vetted and background checked already, have access to PreCheck benefits. Their military ID number serves as the proxy for the known traveler program.
3. Be a long-time member of a Frequent Flyer program. Early in PreCheck’s history, frequent flyers were offered the benefits of the program on a consistent basis to expedite the security process. But, as the number of enrollees in the program increases, it will be offered less and less to this group.
4. Win the Flight-by-Flight Risk Assessment lottery. During pre-screening, the TSA runs risk algorithms using passenger data to determine which are deemed to be low risk and allows them into the TSA PreCheck line. That program also is being curtailed as more people sign up for the official program.
5. Get lucky with a Managed Inclusion screening. Through a program called Managed Inclusion, the TSA was using electric hand swabbing or canines to quickly screen people for explosives and drugs, and then directing them into the PreCheck lines when lines were long. The former has been shut off completely, and the latter is only occurring at a very low rate.
Looking to the future, more airlines will likely come on board, adding to the 12 already enrolled. As major airlines have merged over the last few years, the process has slowed down.
Right now, 1.7 million use the PreCheck system and between three and four million use Global Entry, but the TSA expects that number to grow exponentially as travelers become more familiar with the program’s benefits.
by Daniel McCarthy / November 09, 2015