When I traveled to Las Vegas ten days ago, I forgot to do one important thing when I booked my flight.
And the result of this momentarily lapse was a long, forty minute wait to pass through security at Orlando International Airport.
Normally, when I’m at a US airport I pass through the TSA Pre✓® lane – the speedy security lane for pre-screened passengers. But this time, I could only watch the speedy lane from the chaos of seven long regular security lanes merging into one, creeping slowly along as the frustration of those around me grew with each minute.
Why was I in the regular security lane this time around?
When booking my flight, I had forgotten to enter my Known Traveler Number into the reservation. Simple as that. And with my Known Traveler Number, the words “TSA Pre✓®” are printed across my boarding passes, allowing me to zip through the dedicated TSA Pre✓® lanes at all airport security inspections in the US.
With the TSA Pre✓® lanes, the lines, if any, move quickly. The wait, if any, is never more than a couple of minutes in my experience. Shoes don’t need to be removed, laptop and liquids stay in my carry-on bag, jacket and belt stay on as well. It’s quick and hassle-free.
My airport experience is easier and I have more time to roam the terminal before my flight (which I like to do in order to stretch before boarding the plane). Just not having to wait in the long lines, take off shoes and take out my laptop makes it well worth it to me.
But alas, this time, en route to Vegas, I was back in the normal security lines, only able to watch the TSA Pre✓® passengers pass straight by me. I think it was only the second time I forgot to enter my number in the past two years.
For US citizens, nationals and permanent residents who travel a decent amount (even a couple of times per year would make sense) you can apply for TSA Pre✓® directly.
The process is quite straightforward, involving online pre-enrollment by filling out the TSA Pre✓® application, visiting an enrollment center near you (there are over 370 centers to choose from) with the required paperwork and paying the $85 fee. Once the process is complete, you should receive your Known Traveler Number by mail within 2-3 weeks and it will be valid for 5 years.
And with that number, you’re good to go. Enter it every time you make a flight booking (there is a box for Known Traveler Number when making flight bookings on any website these days) and your boarding pass will automatically say “TSA Pre✓®” on it, allowing you to head straight for the dedicated, and speedy, security lines every time you fly.
Do you already have TSA Pre✓®? Are there similar programs in other countries?