Last Updated on March 27, 2021
TSA PreCheck is a trusted traveler program often used by members of frequent flyer programs. It allows these passengers to receive expedited screening for domestic flights and some international flights.
Basically, it’s a scheme where you can pay to skip the line at the security checkpoint. To qualify, you usually need to undergo a background check, get fingerprinted, and pay an $85 fee every five years.
Sometimes even when you are haven’t applied for the program you’ll unexpectedly see “TSAPRECHK”, “TSA PRE”, or “TSA Pre✓®” printed on your boarding pass.
This post explores why this happens and what it means for you.
What Does TSA PreCheck Mean On Your Boarding Pass or Ticket
When you have TSA PreCheck printed on your boarding pass it means you can use the TSA PreCheck lane at the security checkpoint.
In theory, the PreCheck lane at airport security is faster. You can go through screening without removing your shoes, liquids, or electronics from your carry-on luggage.
There are no guarantees you’ll get through security faster though so don’t leave it late to go to the airport. Even passengers that have the TSA Pre✓ stamp on their airline ticket can be subjected to random additional screening.
Don’t assume that the PreCheck lane will even be open. Danielle thinks that having PreCheck status gives her an extra half an hour, that’s a dangerous assumption to make.
TSA agents on the ground could decide they want you to remove your shoes, and get your laptop out your bag anyway.
The PreCheck line should get your through faster, but it’s more about making your experience more relaxed. You should plan to arrive at the airport in plenty time and you’ll just have more time to waste on the other side of security before your flight.
How Did I Get Tsa Precheck Without Applying?
Even if you didn’t provide a known traveler number when booking your flight you can sometimes get the TSA PreCheck stamp on your ticket.
It’s a marketing ploy, like a free sample. They want you to try it out and enjoy the faster and more relaxed security checkpoint experience.
The hope is that you will like it so much you’ll apply for TSA PreCheck membership program, pay the fee, and go through the interview and background check to become a trusted traveler.
With over 10 million members TSA PreCheck raises funds for the TSA. It allows them to spend less time screening travelers they think are low risk and to devote their resources to looking for any of the bad guys that are a risk.
The allocation of a free TSA PreCheck stamp isn’t random. You have been profiled and it’s been decided that you are probably one of the good guys (or gals) and can enjoy a more relaxed security screening experience.
Sometimes if you book multiple tickets together and another member of your party has TSA PreCheck then you might get bumped up to have it too.
It is possible to get selected for free TSA PreCheck without signing up.
There is no way to control whether this will happen to you again or not. Apart from staying out of trouble with the law!
If your boarding pass says TSA PreCheck just relax and enjoy the precheck line. It makes getting through security a little less stressful and you might have a little more time to enjoy your pre-flight coffee.
If you are a frequent flyer then you probably already knew what TSA PreCheck is and whether or not it’s worth it for you.
If you don’t fly regularly then you might prefer to keep your money. Expedited security won’t get you to your final destination any quicker.
The bottom line is that all passengers on your flight take off and land at the same time. Enjoy your free PreCheck stamp, you’re getting a glimpse at how privileged folks live!