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The Scoop on TSA Pre✓®

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Friday, April 13, 2012
TSA Precheck logo

Hello out there in the blogosphere, I am Jonella. I work with Bob at TSA and in particular I work on a lot of the TSA Pre✓® communications. Since the launch of TSA Pre✓® last October, more than 750,000 travelers have received expedited screening and we’ve received lots of positive feedback and a few reoccurring questions or themes that I want to address and what better place than here on the TSA Blog!

“Why is TSA Pre✓® only open to a small, select group of passengers?”

TSA Pre✓®, as with our other risk-based initiatives, is based on the premise that most passengers do not pose a risk to security. Acting on that premise, we looked for pre-existing traveler databases we could utilize to test our ability to identify low-risk passengers. U.S. airlines and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have populations of travelers who have already provided details about themselves and both were willing to partner with TSA to offer TSA Pre✓® benefits to their populations as part of our initial test of the expedited screening concept.

We are actively looking for ways to include more populations in some of the risk-based screening initiatives. For example, we recently added active duty U.S. service members to the TSA Pre✓® population. We are starting their eligibility for those traveling out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport with plans of expanding this particular initiative to other airports in the future through our partnership with the Department of Defense.

Frequent flyers contacted by aircraft operators do not incur a fee to participate in TSA Pre✓®. Currently, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are participating in TSA Pre✓® and operating out of 12 airports and both continue to offer eligible passengers the opportunity to opt in. US Airways, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines, which will join TSA Pre✓® in the coming months, are also contacting eligible passengers to invite them to opt in. JetBlue is expected to join later this year. So, if you are a frequent flyer with any one of these airlines, check your email and be sure to opt in so you can participate.

Another option for passengers is to join one of CBP’s Trusted Traveler programs. TSA’s partnership with CBP automatically qualifies U.S. citizens who are members of Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS for participation in TSA Pre✓® - at no additional cost. People who are not current members of those programs can apply anytime to get the dual benefit of Global Entry for international travel and TSA Pre✓® for domestic travel. Global Entry charges $100, and membership is good for five years. The cost to join NEXUS is about half as much and also applies for five years.

“I opted into TSA Pre✓® but I rarely, if ever, get expedited screening.”

Random and unpredictable security measures are a part of everything we do. This is to ensure that terrorists and anyone with bad intentions will have a hard time gaming the system. To that end, no one who opts in should expect to get expedited screening every time they fly through a TSA Pre✓® airport. That said, some passengers say they have opted in but seldom receive expedited screening and there could be a few reasons for this.

First, it is important to remember that TSA Pre✓® is currently only available for U.S. citizens traveling domestically on a participating airline, out of a participating airport. Click here for the most updated list.

Secondly, if you are a member of a CBP Trusted Traveler program, be sure you’re including your PASS ID - found in the top-left corner on the back of your membership card - in the ‘Known Traveler’ field every time you book a flight. If you’re not sure it’s in there, especially if you’re not booking it yourself, you can always call your airline to confirm that your number is on the reservation before you fly.

“I can’t remember if I opted in with my airline. How can I find out?”

The airlines capture your TSA Pre✓® opt-in status and transmit that information to TSA along with your TSA Secure Flight passenger data. If you’re unsure whether you have already opted in, I would encourage you to check your airline member profile. Some airlines have the ability to add your TSA Pre✓® opt-in status to your frequent flyer account information online. And remember, if you’re already a member of one of the CBP Trusted Traveler programs you can enter your PASS ID when booking your own travel or saving it in your frequent flyer profile - that signals your opt-in status and that info will be transmitted to TSA when the airline sends your other data.

We are excited about the initiative’s success and look forward to its continued expansion. Stay tuned on the blog and for future announcements for TSA Pre✓®.

I'll be blogging more in the future. See you next time!

TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.


Submitted by RB on

TSA Pre✓™, as with our other risk-based initiatives, is based on the premise that most passengers do not pose a risk to security.

If the above TSA statement was in the least bit true then TSA Pre✓™ would not be aimed at a relatively small number of travelers that TSA is targeting.

A real Risk Based program would isolate the small minority of travelers that might pose a problem.

TSA Pre✓™ is just another TSA boondoggle that misses its target.

Try again!

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is idiotic. You've created this nightmarish pile of stupidity layered on top of panic with a side order of bedwetting and now you're allowing an elite group of passengers the opportunity to sometimes go through what should be the standard screening protocol for everyone because you can't admit that all of your nonsense does nothing to make anyone safer. You people would be a joke if you weren't so dangerous and pathetic. Shame on you.

Submitted by Coldwarsoldier on


Submitted by Dan on

Why are you focusing on those that are low risk? Would not your resources(unlimited as they are) be better focused on the high risk people?

Submitted by Anonymous on

If you have a government security clearance, why can't that be used as a qualification for TSA Pre?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Jonella said:
"TSA Pre✓™, as with our other risk-based initiatives, is based on the premise that most passengers do not pose a risk to security. Acting on that premise, we looked for pre-existing traveler databases we could utilize to test our ability to identify low-risk passengers."

What do you mean by "test your ability"? How can you possibly test that?

Testing your ability to identify low-risk people would require knowing who is low risk and who isn't. The only possible test is to wait a few years and see if a few terrorists get through your screening.

Maybe you should try this test out on your employees first, since you seem to have issues with identifying low risk people there.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How much is PreCheck costing us in administrative and back-end programming? I have a better idea: let all travelers leave their shoes on and skip AIT for primary screening. You yourself admit that the number of terrorists in the world is minuscule. What's your metric for determining the success of PreCheck?

Submitted by Anonymous on
...the premise that most passengers do not pose a risk to security.

.... test our ability to identify low-risk passengers.

If most passengers do not pose a threat, it is very easy to identify low-risk passengers.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Shoes, belts, jackets, liquid baggies and laptops should not be removed for anyone.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The scoop on Pre is that the TSA can´t admit that taking off shoes does nothing for security, so they stop doing it to the groups that compain most, or get most press (frequent fliers, military and now also grannies, who are exempt from shoe removal even if they don´t qualify for full Precheck).

Submitted by Anonymous on

For ten years, you people have taken away our Constitution throughout every aspect of the transportation sector and you are selling it back to us, one privileged class at a time.

Submitted by Kat on


Blogger Bog hasn't answered a question I had, which is, "What's the difference in the background checks done by TSA for its PreCheck, and the background checks done by the U.S. State Department for passports?"

Passports are not cheap. Why should travelers have to pay for an additional background check, and pay yet another fee?

Submitted by Anonymous on

If i'm eligible through having a Nexus Pass, do i need to be flying one of the participating airlines in order to use the program? For example, it appears that Alaska Airlines is the only airline mentioned for Seattle. If i'm flying out of Seattle on United, can i provide my Nexus pass # to United and use Precheck?

Submitted by Anonymous on

The TSA could readily capitalize on Gov't-conducted background checks - currently on file -- that are already bought, paid for, and up-dated every 5 years: Classified Security Clearances. One should easily and quickly qualify for trusted traveler status by holding an active classified security clearance, say Top Secret and TS/SCI, which have a background investigation going back 10 years and re-investigated every 5 years. Similarly, and as valid, are Secret security clearances that go back 7 years w/ the background investigation. ALL also include fingerprints checks w/ FBI and name checks thru all the indices held by FBI (wants, warrants, criminal history). These background checks greatly exceed any $100 check by TSA, and all know the "trusted traveler" interview by the Gov't is simply a means to gather info for that more limited check.

So, for Gov't, military, and contractor staff the already on file, paid for, and in greater depth security clearance backgournd investigations should be used and honored to designate trusted travelers.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What's the pupose of this Blog if noone from TSA HQ is going to answer the actual questions posted here? The website for Pre Check has limited information.

If I Opt'd in through Delta & AA and have been screened as Pre Check passenger in the past, does that automatically Opt me in with one of the new carriers coming online like Alaska at SEA?

Submitted by Dani's Blog on

I'm wondering TSA Pre-Check programs would expanded to Canadian citzens? Many thousands of Canadian's have NEXUS likes myself; we work/live in the US on a work or study visa status (such as TN, F-1, H-1) and because of the extensice travel on behalf of our work we also hold an elite status with our respective airlines (american and delta). Hence is it possible for us to opt into TSA Pre-Check or is it only for US Citizens?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Welcome to the era of two-classes of citizenship.

After erecting a nightmarish cattle chute which already requires the forfeiture of personal dignity, the TSA now offers accelerated processing if one forgoes yet further rights.

Submitted by Rich Buckley on

See Something, Report Something has a new twist. A new mobile app to report unfair TSA screeners:

Two Thumbs Up!

Submitted by Rich Buckley on

See Something, Report Something has a new twist. A new mobile app to report unfair TSA screeners.

Two Thumbs Up!

Submitted by Ashton Jones on
Background Checks are pretty scary when your waiting for results. Especially when it can cost you a potential job offer.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Trying to understand how a TS clearance with a badge that gets me on military bases and into the Pentagon is not enough to join this program. I am not considered a risk to the nation's secrets, but I am to an airplane...?

The logic behind this program is flawed...

Submitted by Anonymous on

What about passengers such as myself who are ZERO risk?

Believe it or not, MOST people (99.99%) of all travelers who are US citizens are ZERO risk, not "low" risk...

Anyway, I will never fly again as long as the TSA touches people.

I wonder how many people simply avoid flying? How much has this lost revenue hurt the airline industries?

Submitted by Anonymous on

As someone who flies 100k miles a year and as a result, spends a ton of time at airports, TSA Pre is a fantastic innovation. Checking someone like myself twice a week is an utter waste of time and resources that can be better spent on higher risk travelers. I hope the program succeeds and expands. It is easier to complain than solve real problems for travelers. Thank you TSA for putting travelers first this time.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Because its already been proven that government agencies don't share any information.

Submitted by Rebecca Nada on

Recently went thru Atl TSA checkpoint with my registered trusted traveler card. TSA soundly refused to acknowledge it and stated I had been misinformed. If anything, they provided a "more thorough" check. They did however let a woman with several teenagers thru the 100 percent screening point with only a metal detector check. everyone else was forced thru the scatter machine or thru an aggressive pat down. seems they have no real rules and do as they please. don't be fooled into paying for the trusted traveler card from cbp, it does not work. what a waste of tax payer money.

Submitted by Austin on

Everyone seems to be upset about this, but I think it's a step in the right direction. I'm not sure who the TSA is putting on their "safe" list but it should definitely include the elderly. Mobility's not as easy when you're old so if anyone should be able to walk through the screenings more quickly it's them

Submitted by Anonymous on

I received my pass id from Global Entry and filled out with United Airlines in my profile. I was denied access to the TSA Pre line this week. I checked back with CBP and confirmed I have the correct Known Traveler number or PASS ID and also confirmed I have it correct with United. Again today I was denied access to the TSA Pre. How do I find out from TSA if there is an issue with my number or my set-up?

Submitted by Anonymous on

What is the reason behind TSA's policy that certain foreign nationals who are Global Entry members seem to be excluded from TSA Pre? Currently, GE is available also for Canadians, Qatari, Dutch, Korean, and German citizens. While Canadian GE members are allowed TSA Pre, the Qatari, Dutch, Korean, and German citizens are denied TSA Pre. Given that all GE members have gone through the same identity and security checks, this asymmetry does not make sense.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Today's epic TSA fail. I'm at Phoenix International airport Terminal 4 A gates and both the TSA Pre-Check line and standard line become one. This a slowdown and mass confusion occur bc everyone is now treated as having Pre-Check regardless. So no one has to follow security standards, just Pre-Check. Why have a difference to begin with if everyone is considered pre approved. Something tells me this is not how it was supposed to be but the TSA director on duty couldn't be bothered to look up from his smart phone (busy playing Candy Crush I suppose). Glad I went to all the trouble of a background check and cost for nothing.

Submitted by Christie on

Like others here, I paid for and went through the process to get a global entry, trusted traveler card and am an airline employee. Still I have been denied Pre-Check six times now. Waste of money and time for me.

Submitted by Chris Russo on

I agree with the Anonymous user on the top. Shoes, belts, jackets, liquid baggies and laptops should not be removed for anyone, it doesn't make any sense...

Submitted by Anonymous on

Just made a round trip ORD to TUL on the way down we both passed through pre check, it was nice.
On the way back though only one of us was pre check.
Pretty pointless at this end when travelling in a group to exclude anyone at random.
Put all or none in your selection process.

Submitted by Stan Dyer on

I am a fan of PreCheck. I like it, and appreicate that TSA recognizes my low-risk status. PreCheck helps shorten security lines, and that makes everything run more smoothly. The only problem I see with PreCheck is that more people are not taking advantage of it.

Submitted by James on

TSA is a joke. My whole family missed our flight home because TSA can't get things done after 17 years of prep and planning! A low risk family of 7 leaving Hawaii misses their flight despite the fact that 5 of the 7 got pre check. 2 of the non pre chk were my 13 yr old son and myself. Both wearing sandals and forced to remove our shoes... what a joke... but ok. So my military veteran father, my daughter of a retired air force colonel, my 11yr old son and 15yr old daughter and my 70 YR OLD DISABLED MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS RIDDEN WHEEL CHAIRED MOTHER are all pre check.... we all are in the same line. My 70 YR OLD WHEELCHAIR RIDING MS PATIENT MOTHER... is now separated from us where she is cattled off to the side to wait 15 minutes! Then TSA takes about another 15 minutes swabbing her standard mobile chair and frisking her and not allowing us to help. They do all this putting us well behind and we ultimately miss our flight. We arrived early enough. We had called ahead for help and in the end the crack team TSA managed to only secure one thing... my belief that they are useless. There is plenty more to all of this, but least to say while they focused on treating my pre chk mother the way they did, I'm sure they lost focus on other stuff. By the way... you would think that since Hawaii, Maui to be exact, generally isn't known for its "many bomb making materials and terrorist wheel chair explosive experts" that this process could have gone a little better. So here we are sleepless at 4am hoping we get all 7 of us on a standby flight back. THANKS TSA! A BIG THUMBS UP TO YOUR EXPERTISE AND CRACK TEAM EFFORT. Let's see how tomorrow goes and whether or not you guys get featured on CNN. Keep your eyes peeled to youtube.... I may be posting a video of how they handle my mom...