Embracing TSA Pre-Check
My hold out is over.
On June 1 I visited the TSA Pre Check enrollment office at Phoenix Sky Harbor and was told I could check my status online in a week or two.
Literally the next day, June 2, I got an email telling me I’d been approved.
The process was painless. Maybe 10 minutes. A few forms filled out. Electronic fingerprint collection. Done.
Why had it taken me so long to enroll – and the question is more puzzling because my Amex Platinum card reimburses the $85 fee (and Amex already has done so!).
My indifference is easy to explain. Since Pre-Check started, I got it, free of charge and hassles, close to 100% of the time. Why do anything when I already had it on a de facto basis.
In the past year, though, my success rate had dropped to maybe 50%. I could see the future and it was grim.
TSA is enrolling huge numbers into Pre-Check, as the media and even some carriers whip up fears about long security lines. There were will be fewer and fewer free passes.
In Phoenix there were maybe two dozen people – without appointments – waiting for an opening to apply. Many enrollment centers now are discouraging walk-ins and, really, it is easy to make an online appointment, so why not?
Ever more will keep enrolling.
Does this augur longer lines for Pre-Check and slower processing? Of course. Bet on that.
About 2.8 million of us are presently enrolled, but applications have doubled from 8000 per day in April to 16,000 in May.
The TSA goal is to enroll 25 million.
For me, obviously, the $85 was never a hurdle. I simply did not want to spend a few hours traveling to/from Sky Harbor and dealing with the TSA. Honestly, though, it was all as painless as possible. Having done it, I wonder why I did not do it a year ago.
As for those who have to shell out their own $85, I still say, go for it. Even two flights a year – 10 over the five years provided by TSA Pre-Check – make the cost per flight similar to an airport beer. And Pre-Check lines will grow but they will remain shorter and faster.
The real reason not to enroll in Pre-Check? If most of your flights are out of airports that are not presently serviced by Pre-Check. Right now 160 airports are but there are thousands of airports in the US.
Even at airports that show as enrolled in Pre-Check, often Pre-Check lines are not open, a fact admitted by TSA.
It’s not perfect. That’s plain.
But still I say: enroll and stop your grumbling about the long security lines. When Pre-Check is available – and typically it is at Sky Harbor, even Las Vegas, at Newark, the airports I frequent – it is very pleasant indeed.
I really dislike taking my shoes and belt off, I find it worrisome to set my computer out for inspection, and – always – in the ordinary security lines there are infrequent travelers who cause friction with water bottles, hand lotions, and more. Everything just is faster in the Pre-Check line.
Go for it.