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No doubt that one of the least enjoyable parts of air travel is airport security. However, there's a straightforward way to speed your way through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints: TSA PreCheck. And TSA PreCheck just got even more valuable. 7 more airlines officially joined as TSA PreCheck participating airlines this month.
That makes now a great time to review why you should enroll in PreCheck, all 79 participating airlines, and the credit cards that will reimburse the cost of your application as a cardholder benefit.
What is TSA PreCheck?
By enrolling in TSA PreCheck, travelers get to skip the normal shoes-off liquids-out slow-moving standard airport security screening. Instead, you use a dedicated security lane where you just plop your bags on the belt and walk through a normal metal detector.
Clear Security in Under 5 Minutes
Almost all TSA PreCheck travelers clear through security in less than 5 minutes. In fact, during February 2021, 100% of PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes to clear security. Even before the pandemic reduced travel, it was common for 95% of PreCheck passengers to wait less than 5 minutes.
Over 200 Airports with TSA PreCheck
There are more than 200 airports that participate in TSA PreCheck, including all major airports in the U.S. You can browse an interactive map with all participating airports on the TSA website.
How to Get TSA PreCheck
TSA PreCheck is available to U.S. citizens, nationals, and legal permanent residents. All you need to do to enroll is take 5 minutes to fill out and submit an online application. Then, you'll schedule a background check appointment at one of 380+ enrollment centers where you will be fingerprinted. Assuming you successfully complete your background check, you will be enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program within a couple of weeks.
Once you are enrolled, you will be assigned a Known Traveler Number, which can be added to your frequent flyer accounts and/or air travel reservations so that airlines are aware of your membership. This will allow participating airlines to add a TSA PreCheck indicator on your boarding pass. That will allow you to use the PreCheck security lines at participating airports.
TSA PreCheck Cost
What would you pay for 5 years of avoiding needing to remove your shoes, laptop, liquids, belts, and light jackets when going through TSA? The great news is that the application fee is quite reasonable: $85. That's just $17 per year.
Even better, you can get this application fee refunded if you charge the application fee to one of dozens of credit cards. We will show you how further down in this post. So, don't head over to the PreCheck application page quite yet!
Is Global Entry a Better Alternative?
Global Entry is a program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Global Entry membership includes enrollment in TSA PreCheck. At $100, the Global Entry application fee is only $15 higher than the TSA PreCheck application fee. The Global Entry membership period is also 5-years long.
If you fly internationally at least once within a 5-year period, Global Entry membership is likely the better choice. However, there are fewer Global Entry enrollment centers, so it can be harder for some travelers to enroll in Global Entry. If you're an infrequent international traveler, enrolling in TSA PreCheck may be the more practical option.
TSA PreCheck Participating Airlines
|Aerolane Lineas Aereas Nacionales del Ecuador||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|Aeromexico||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|Air Canada||North America|
|Air Choice One||North America|
|Air India||Indian Subcontinent|
|Alaska Airlines||North America|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)||Asia|
|Allegiant Air||North America|
|American Airlines||North America|
|Aruba Airlines||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|Avianca||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|Azul Airlines||South America|
|Boutique Airlines||North America|
|Cape Air||North America|
|Contour Aviation||North America|
|Copa Airlines||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|Delta Air Lines||North America|
|Eastern Airlines||North America|
|Elite Airways||North America|
|Etihad Airways||Middle East|
|Frontier Airlines||North America|
|Hawaiian Airlines||North America|
|InterCaribbean Airways||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|JetBlue Airways||North America|
|Key Lime Air||North America|
|KLM Royal Dutch Airlines||Europe|
|LATAM Airlines||South America|
|LAN Peru S.A.||South America|
|Omni Air International||North America|
|Porter Airlines||North America|
|Qatar Airways||Middle East|
|Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)||Europe|
|Seaborne Airlines||North America|
|Silver Airways||North America|
|Southern Airways Express||North America|
|Southwest Airlines||North America|
|Spirit Airlines||North America|
|Sun Country Airlines||North America|
|Sunwing Airlines||North America|
|Swift Air||North America|
|Swiss International Air Lines||Europe|
|TAM-Linhas Aereas S.A.||South America|
|TAP Air Portugal||Europe|
|Turkish Airlines||Middle East|
|Ultimate Jet Charters||North America|
|United Airlines||North America|
|World Atlantic||North America|
|Xtra Airways||North America|
The number of airlines participating in the TSA PreCheck program has grown significantly over the past few years. In May 2016, only 12 airlines participated in TSA PreCheck. Since then, we have seen a massive expansion:
- January 2017: Aruba Airlines, Avianca, Boutique Airlines, Emirates, Key Lime Air, Miami Air International, Xtra Airways, Sunwing, Virgin Atlantic, Spirit Airlines, and Southern Airways Express
- May 2017: Copa Airlines, Dominican Wings, InterCaribbean Airways, Silver Airways, Singapore Airlines, Swift Air, Turkish Airlines
- October 2017: All Nippon Airways (ANA), Cathay Pacific Airways, Contour Aviation, Finnair, Korean Air
- May 2018: Air Serbia, British Airways, Condor Airlines, Porter Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines (UK), Thomas Cook Airlines (Scandanavia)
- August 2018: SWISS International Airlines
- October 2018: Flycana, Icelandair, Norwegian Air, ViaAir
- February 2019: Air India, Asiana Airlines, China Airlines, Eastern Airlines, Elite Airways, EVA Air, Japan Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, Volaris
- April 2019: Edelweiss Air, Qatar Airways
- August 2019: Austrian Airlines, Azul Airlines, Interjet, PAL Express, Swoop, VivaAerobus
- December 2019: Alitalia Airlines, Qantas Airways, Sunclass
Now, in March 2021, the newest TSA PreCheck participating airlines are:
- Aerolane Lineas Aereas Nacionales del Ecuador
- Air Choice One
- LATAM Airlines
- LAN Peru S.A.
- TAM-Linhas Aereas S.A.
- Omni Air International
- Ultimate Jet Charters
Credit Cards that Provide TSA PreCheck Enrollment or Renewal Fee Credit
Thanks to a large number of credit cards that provide credits in connection to applications or renewals for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you can enjoy all the advantages provided by either of these programs just by having the right card. These credit cards include the following:
TSA PreCheck can be worth it for even the infrequent traveler. Sure, you need to fill out an application and go through a screening, but both should only take a few minutes. And the small amount of cost and effort can really pay off in time savings (and less frustration) at the airport.
If you travel internationally, you're likely better off enrolling in Global Entry. You'll get all of the benefits of TSA PreCheck along with being able to speed through immigration when re-entering the United States.
If you're a points and miles collector, it's likely that you already have a credit card that will refund the application fee. Just pay for your application or renewal fee with one of the credit cards mentioned above to receive a credit reimbursing you for the fee. And, if you already have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you can use your card to pay for someone else's application fee. Just make sure to carefully read the terms and limitations on your card before doing so.
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card (Rates & Fees), Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (Rates & Fees), Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card (Rates & Fees), Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (Rates & Fees), Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees), The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees)
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