Changes to the TSA PreCheck Program
There are currently over 1,000,000 travelers enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program. If you’re a loyal member of an airline frequent flyer program who has opted to use the PreCheck lanes in the past, you may already have received notification from your carrier that the rules are about to change and that your access to expedited security will decline. If you’re wondering how these changes will affect you, the UNIGLOBE experts are here to answer your questions.
What do the changes to the TSA PreCheck program mean to frequent flyer program members?
When the TSA began the PreCheck program they required a large number of passengers using the expedited lanes in order to kick-start the program. It was decided that elite frequent flyers who frequently cleared security were the ideal candidates for this expedited security check. TSA struck a deal with the airlines—who controlled the queues leading up to the checkpoints— allowing their elite passengers to use the expedited lanes even though they hadn’t paid the $85 PreCheck fee.
A consequence of the DHS Trusted Traveler Program now reaching adequate enrollment means that the expedited security process is beginning to slow down, therefore defeating its original purpose. Thus, TSA has issued a statement that access to PreCheck for frequent flyers will no longer be as frequent or consistent as it is for members of a Trusted Traveler program. A service that you have counted on will no longer be available to you.
What should I do in order to continue to have access to expedited security?
If you’re a member of a frequent flyer program and wish to continue receiving expedited security screening you will now be required to apply for one of the following Trusted Traveler programs: PreCheck ($85), Global Entry ($100), NEXUS ($50) or SENTRI ($122.25). Once you’ve joined one of these programs and received a Known Traveler Number (KTN) ensure that it is entered in your frequent flyer account.
Which Trusted Traveler program is best for me?
If the majority of your travel is domestic, the PreCheck program is probably adequate for your needs. If your travel includes frequent international trips, we recommend you sign up for Global Entry. This program entitles you to use expedited Customs & Immigration lanes upon returning from an international destination as well as access to PreCheck when boarding any flight. In other words, you’re covered for both domestic and international travel for only $15 more.
NEXUS is designed to expedite customs and immigration between the US and Canada. However, it allows use of the Global Entry kiosks when arriving in the U.S. from other countries as well, so you can access that benefit for half the cost. The downside is that it is more cumbersome to acquire as it requires an interview with Canadian immigration with more limited interview locations.
SENTRI users have access to specific, dedicated primary lanes into the U.S. at southern land borders as well as NEXUS lanes when entering the U.S. from Canada. It also allows access to Global Entry kiosks and users are eligible for TSA PreCheck.