Of all the places I’d like to go now that I have TSA Pre-Check, paramount is the past, where I would go in a business class time machine and sign up for TSA PreCheck years ago.
While I can’t go to the past, wherever else I go, I’m now going to get there without taking out my liquids and laptop, removing my belt and shoes and waiting in a line that makes me lose my will to live. Moreover, my kids — as long as they are 12 or under — qualify to go through the TSA PreCheck lane with me.
How much faster is PreCheck? In December of 2016, 98% of passengers waited less than five minutes.
If you, like me, are haunted by all the family trips you’ve taken without this glorious, expeditious, gift from the TSA, there’s no time like the present. So let me walk you through it.
How do I apply?
You fill out a very quick application on the TSA’s website. There, you will be asked to select a time and location for an in-person meeting. The closest location to our home was actually our local airport, where we made a Saturday morning out of it, having breakfast at Sky Harbor in Phoenix, racing around baggage carousels and watching planes land from the vantage point of the highest floor of the parking garage.
How long does the interview take?
According to my very precise timing method (my super exacting, never-wrong husband and his iPhone timer), the entire thing took ten minutes, as promised. A TSA agent asked me a few questions, took electronic fingerprints of all ten digits, charged me $85 and examined my documents. You can use a passport or any other valid form of government I.D AND a birth certificate. Because I changed my name when I got married, I also had to provide a marriage certificate along with my other two documents.
What happens next?
Five days later, I got an email notification and logged onto the TSA’s website for my KTN; that’s right, I’m the proud owner of my very own Known Traveler Number, which will be effective for five years on domestic flights.
How do you use your TSA PreCheck Known Traveler Number?
When you’re making a reservation online or over the phone, you simply include your KTN. If you forget, you can add it within 48 hours of your flight.
Who should get TSA PreCheck?
This one only you can answer, but I would think it would be well worth the $85 even if you only travel once or twice a year. Multiply that by five years. It’s hard to calculate the emotional and literal value of your time and trouble, but personally, if I never spend an hour waiting in a security line while picking up and putting down my backpack 9,000 times trying not to touch anything with germy airport microbes while my kids melt down or roll around on the carpet, it will be too soon.
Save me a window seat on that time machine.