If you've been putting off Precheck — the TSA's expedited airport security program — and you'll board an airplane this year, it's time to reconsider — for a couple big reasons.
The first: Eleven new airlines are now on Precheck's roster. If you stick to major carriers like United or American, there's no news here. If you routinely fly first-class or business, you've probably got your own lines. But if you frequently fly, say, Spirit — well, first of all, our condolences and we hope all your carry-ons are sufficiently small — this is big news. That carrier — along with Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Avianca, Aruba Airlines, and a handful of small, regional ones — now offer Precheck.
Here's the other reason, and it's key. For the past few years, TSA agents have routinely directed non-Precheck passengers into the expedited line, where flyers can keep on their sweaters and shoes, leave their laptops in their bags, and walk through the old-school X-ray machines rather than the full-body scanners. That's coming to an end — to the presumptive glee of Precheck passengers, who resented the longer lines of the Un-Prechecked, and to the presumptive dismay of travelers who counted on the upgrade.
According to Skift, a TSA rep wrote in an email that “we intend to only have enrolled or pre-vetted passengers, or those screened by K9s, in the expedited screening lanes.” Look for this change next month.
If you haven't signed up for Precheck, it's well worth the upfront hassle and $85, five-year fee.
Go here to make an appointment, where you'll submit to fingerprinting and undergo a background check. If you're not flying business or above, it's a must for stress-free (or less-stress) flights.