We all want to stay safe when we fly. Still it's a major pain going through airport security checks....taking off your shoes, pulling out carry-on liquids, pulling out tablets and laptops. This hassle is compounded when you're a family with kids trying to navigate your way through an airport to your plane.
The TSA PreCheck program is now available for low risk passengers in over 160 US airports. While it was formerly available only for domestic flights within the United States, TSA PreCheck has expanded its reach to include certain international flights departing from US airports. TSA PreCheck is not available from international airports for flights returning back to the U.S.
The TSA now allows law abiding U.S. citizens to apply for TSA PreCheck. This additional screening allows approved passengers to simply put their carry on bags on the Xray scanner and pass through the metal detector without packing and unpacking or undressing and dressing. Approved passengers for are given a "Known, Traveler Number (KTM) that is recongnized by all airlines that allow for the service.
Airlines participating in the TSA PreCheck program include Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines, Cape Air, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Lufthansa, OneJet, Seaborne Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin America and WestJet.
Passengers, or their travel agent, report their KTM number to the airlines when confirming airline tickets. Their boarding passes will be noted that they qualify for TSA PreCheck. When they show their boarding pass and passport/photo driver's license at airport security, passengers will be allowed to pass through airport security with far greater ease.
To apply for TSA PreCheck, you must pay the non-refundable fee of $85 and allow the TSA to conduct a background check (i.e. fingerprints, SSN, etc.). Applications can be made online or in person at any enrollment center. It generally takes 30 days for application approval and to receive your KTN number. Once approved, your KTN and TSA pre-check status is good for 5 years.
Good news is if parents or guardians qualify for TSA PreCheck, then all family members age 12 and under also qualify for expedited screening. Once children turn 13 years of age, they must go thru standard security lanes or apply for their own TSA PreCheck and KTN.
TSA PreCheck is an additional expense when budgeting a family vacation but consider it an investment in hassle free airport check in with your kids for the next 5 years. Anything that can help parents navigate an airport with children can be priceless.