Monday, June 6, 2016

TSA- PreCheck - The Only Way To Travel This Summer

After you sign up and are approved you will be issued your TSA Pre designation by the ticket issuing airline.

As the summer season tourist crush is already upon us, with long lines at many airports, weary travelers are wondering what exactly they can do to avoid the longest lines. In one straightforward answer: sign up for TSA -PreCheck, the government's trusted traveler program. It basically ensures you a speedy passage through TSA security lines, without the onerous need to remove shoes, belts, laptop and toiletry bags (with 3 oz. liquids).  All of that commotion takes time and hence is bound to back up the regular TSA lines.

According to 'Airlines for America' - as reported in the June 3 Denver Post, "summer travel is expected to be at an all time high"  AfA then observes that for DIA (Denver International Airport) alone, "traffic records could be broken every month during the busy summer season and July could end up being the airport's busiest month ever."

Even at the beginning of April, when we left for Barbados from DIA, there were massive lines (not when we departed - at just before midnight- but later the next morning with security lines flowing out into the next concourse and waits over an hour). People were going ballistic. But you don't have to be part of the chaos if you sign up and receive the TSA Pre designation when you get your ticket.

According to the Post, "as the looming security madness became ubiquitous in May about 16,000 people signed up for Precheck each day, double the daily counts in April"

SO what's the problem and why aren't more signing up?  According to one TSA spokesperson quoted in the piece:

"It's not a question of PreCheck not being popular. It's more a question of how many people actually know about it No one really knows about it and the benefits of being a PreCheck member."

Well, hence the reason for this blog post to try to inform many more people, who I hope will then take advantage of it!

Meanwhile, according to TSA, PreCheck enrollment nationally "is expected to reach 4 million by the end of the year "

So what do you have to do? Basically the main hurdle is to first nab an appointment at one of the TSA service centers near you. Then, a "pre-enrollment" is usually done in the same office as you  are asked a number of questions and have your fingerprints taken. The whole process lasts perhaps seven minutes, maybe fifteen in the case of Janice and myself when we signed up 2 years back.

You then have to have an FBI background check done, to ensure you are not some kind of a nut or terror sympathizer - and then - when you're cleared, you receive a formal letter from TSA acknowledging you've been enrolled as a bona fide PreCheck member.  (Note: You must be enrolled and accepted into the program before you book your flight to partake of the advantages.).

In other words, you can't just traipse to the airport after the interview and pre-enrollment, fingerprints, you must wait for that confirming letter.

Of course, some hardheads and other paranoids will chafe at the prospect of being in another gov't database, but hey - that's the price you pay for convenience in this new jet age, since 9/11. If you don't want to sign up no one's forcing you to, just be prepared to wait in ever long lines and likely tear your hair out after you miss an important connection!

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