TSA PreCheck – Ultimate Guide: Application and Best Use

You’ve probably felt the pain of airport security and want to combat this is by applying for the TSA PreCheck program.

We sure did.

What is TSA PreCheckHow To ApplyTSA PreCheck Interview Locations
How to get TSA PreCheckDenialsAirports
TSA PreCheck CostMilitaryAirlines
Known Traveler NumberTroubleshootingGlobal Entry-SENTRI-NEXUS

With thousands of travelers being approved every month, you’ll need to complete a TSA PreCheck application as soon as possible, and find out all what it entails.

Or maybe one of the other 3 Trusted Traveler Programs will be more suited to your travel habits, such as Global Entry.

Standard Airport Security lines

No more of this with PreCheck

We don’t need to tell you what you already know..that the TSA has certainly transformed our use-to-be-simple flying routines.

We got you covered below.

We’ll touch on everything from how to apply for TSA PreCheck, what airlines accept PreCheck and your Known Traveler Number so you are well informed before you decide to apply Trusted Traveler Program.

Lets begin.

What is TSA PreCheck?

So, what is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is a program developed in an effort to provide low-risk travelers with an opportunity to by-pass excessively long security check points in U.S. airports.

As a response to September 11th, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created as an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The primary concern of the TSA is air travel and they are best known for being the ringleaders of the airport security screening process.

When an individual has qualified for TSA PreCheck, they are eligible to by-pass certain TSA security points, while keeping on their shoes, jacket, and belt.

Also, they are able to keep their laptop and 3-1-1 liquids (yes, liquids) in their carry-on.

TSA PreCheck signs in Indianapolis Airport

There are over 3 million members of TSA PreCheck, with the TSA claiming that the average member spends 5 minutes or less in security lines.

TSA PreCheck is provided by 16 airlines (listed below) at 180+ airports domestically, so the chances of using it when flying are pretty good.

Experience a quick security line ONCE and you’ll wonder why you didn’t apply sooner.

How To Get TSA PreCheck

You know that this program will make your life easier.

And you need to know how to get TSA PreCheck.

This involves two steps:

  • Completing a TSA PreCheck application online
  • Attending a in person interview with a TSA agent

The application process should take about 5-10 minutes and is completed through the government’s Universal Enrollment website.  

TSA PreCheck Application Process

The TSA PreCheck application process is a relatively simple one.

When completing the online application, you will be asked to provide your identity information and other basic questions that are not out of the ordinary.  

The application is provided by Universal Enrollment is a very user friendly one, with an intuitive layout and easy to understand instructions.  

We wish we could say the same thing for the GOES Global Entry application.

After completion you will have the opportunity to schedule your in-person interview.

TSA PreCheck lanes at San Diego airport with Global Entry membership

During your in-person interview, conducted by a TSA officer, additional travel habit questions will be asked, a background check will be run and you will also be finger printed.

The entire interview process is supposed to take only about 10 minutes.

Most people receive TSA PreCheck approval within 5 business days after the interveiw.

You can check your TSA PreCheck status online, again at the Universal Enrollment website.

You can also send a letter via U.S. Mail to confirm your TSA PreCheck status and to confirm your Known Traveler Number (KTN) within two to three weeks.

Sounds rather lengthy but it is an option.

TSA PreCheck Interview Locations

There are over 300 TSA PreCheck interview locations. More than likely one near you.

You can find a TSA PreCheck Interview Location near you at, yet again, the The Universal Enrollment website and typing in your city

Lots of interview locations
This can be the main selling point of the program compared to the other Trusted Traveler Programs managed by the CBP such as (Global Entry, SENTRI and NEXUS) which have fewer.

The sheer number of available TSA interview locations make it possible for more individuals to participate in the program.

Even though you’ll get TSA PreCheck benefits with a Global Entry membership (SENTRI & NEXUS as well) the number of interview locations are less. 86 interview locations for Global Entry membership, for example.

Washington D.C. Global Entry Interviews

Washington D.C. Global Entry Interview

TSA PreCheck Costs

How much does TSA PreCheck cost?

The cost of TSA PreCheck is $85 per person, paid at the time of online application.

This fee is Non-Refundable and covers your TSA PreCheck status for 5 years.

Yes, you can be denied TSA PreCheck, see below, and your $85 fee will not be reinstated back onto your card.

Credit card, money order, and checks are accepted. Payment is accepted online and not at the time of your interview.

The TSA claims that the fee simply covers administrative costs associated with the application, including the required background check.

TSA PreCheck Renewal

Your TSA PreCheck membership will come up for renewal after 5 years.

You will be required to pay the $85 once again and visit an enrollment center again for another intervew.

Under 14
Children under the age of 14 my use TSA PreCheck for free along with a an accompanying parent or guardian who is a TSA PreCheck member.

Denials for TSA PreCheck

Note that not all applicants are accepted into the program.

If TSA determines that you are ineligible for TSA PreCheck status, you will be sent a letter with instructions for how to proceed.TSA PreCheck comes with SENTRI memberships

Why would you be denied for TSA PreCheck status?

Qualifying applicants must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or lawful permanent residents.

When considering an applicant, TSA will look into past criminal history, past violations of transportation security regulations, and current warrants or indictments.

You may view a complete list of disqualifying offenses as explained by the TSA, here.

Don’t worry about speeding tickets or minor traffic violations.

Military Members and TSA PreCheck

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible to receive TSA PreCheck status.

All U.S. Military members, including those serving in the Reserves and National Guard, may receive TSA PreCheck benefits, whether they are traveling for personal or official reasons.

U.S. Armed Forces members are not required to be in uniform in order to receive TSA PreCheck.

Also eligible for expedited screening through TSA PreCheck are Cadets and Midshipmen of the U.S. Military Academy, Air Force Academy, Naval Academy, and Coast Guard Academy.

Similarly, wounded service members and veterans are also eligible for TSA PreCheck.

Any family member under the age of 12 years old traveling with a member of the U.S. Armed Forces are permitted to join the service member through the expedited screening process.

Use your DoD number for PreCheck
In order to take advantage of the TSA PreCheck expedited security screening process, U.S. Armed Forces members should enter their 10-digit Department of Defense (DoD) identification number, which is located on the back of their common access card, in place of the known traveler number when booking flight tickets with participating airlines.

Unfortunately, showing your common access card at a TSA security check point is not enough to process a U.S. Armed Forces member’s TSA PreCheck status; instead, the DoD identification number must be included on all flight reservations.

How to Use Your Known Traveler Number

Your Known Traveler Number (KTN) is the primary way through which you will be identified for TSA PreCheck.

What is my Known Traveler Number?

You will receive your “KTN” after successfully completing your PreCheck interview. It will be available for you to view online, and through the letter sent to you by TSA in the mail.

No Card
You will not receive a TSA PreCheck card when approved for the program.  FYI.

When booking a flight online or over the phone, a PreChecked traveler should provide their Known Traveler Number in designated fields upon check out.


Enter your KTN here to get TSA PreCheck when booking with Expedia

All major online booking agents have easily seen fields for you to enter your KTN. These fields are sometimes labeled “Redress Number”.

By providing your Known Traveler Number when booking your ticket with airlines that support TSA PreCheck, you will have a small logo on your issued ticket, showing that you have been cleared for PreCheck.

When we first started using the program, we were informed that having TSA PreCheck printed on your boarding pass is still a Random Process and being a member only improves your chances.

TSA PreCheck on Boarding PassYes, it is quite disheartening but we have not heard much chatter online in regards to it still bing a random selection process for members.

We were informed from our travel agent that this is to keep PreCheck members honest.

If you find yourself without TSA PreCheck on your boarding pass, re-inquire with your ticketing agent and show them your KTN if you have it printed out or your Global Entry card, SENTRI card or NEXUS card. They should be able to add it on for you.

Similarly you can call your travel agent or airline booking agent and they should be able to assist.

Participating TSA PreCheck Airlines

Unfortunately, not all airlines in the U.S. engage in the TSA PreCheck program.

Listed below are the participating TSA PreCheck airlines.

AeromexicoHawaiian Airways
Air CanadaJetBlue Airways
Alaska AirlinesSeaborne Airlines
Allegiant AirlinesSouthwest Airlines
American AirlinesSun Country Airlines
Cape AirUnited Airlines
Delta AirlinesVirgin America
Etihad AirwaysWestJet
Lufthansa (Aug 31st, 2016)


Flying to Australia on Qantas?  There will be no opportunity for TSA PreCheck at LAX or any U.S. based international airport.

Airports with TSA PreCheck

There are over 180 airports with TSA PreCheck in the U.S.

You can look up the specific TSA PreCheck airports in your state using the PreCheck Map

 We listed them all for you as well.

Not 24/7
Please note that not all PreCheck lanes will be open 24 hours a day.  At many airports, including major ones, TSA PreCheck lanes are often closed during early morning hours.

Troubleshooting TSA PreCheck

Why is the TSA PreCheck logo not on my boarding pass?

If you entered your Known Traveler Number when booking your airline ticket, but the TSA PreCheck logo is not on your boarding pass, there could be several reasons why.

AA Bording pass with TSA PreCheckIf you booked your ticket through a third-party provider, your Known Traveler Number might not have been shared with the airline; contact the airline directly to resolve the problem.

If you did book directly through the airline and entered your Known Traveler Number at the time of booking, but made changes to your reservation, there is a possibility that the airline removed your Known Traveler Number in the process.

Similarly, if you have flights with multiple carriers, you should contact each individual carrier to submit your Known Traveler Number. If you check-in online before your flight and the TSA PreCheck logo is not on your boarding pass, contact your airline ahead of time!

For almost any TSA PreCheck issues regarding your boarding pass, you will need to contact your airline directly.

Where do I find my Known Traveler Number?

Your Known Traveler Number will be issued following the approval of your application, by the TSA. This number is what will be used in every circumstance in order to identify your TSA PreCheck status.

Your Known Traveler Number can be found online…on the Universal Enrollment page again, here.

Trusted Traveler Programs


There are other options in addition to TSA PreCheck that frequent flyers may choose to participate in instead.

There are 3 managed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and are called Trusted Traveler Programs.

They are made up of:

  • Global Entry

All these programs were created to provide expedited travel for low risk citizens traveling into the U.S. from international travel.

Global Entry

Citizens of the United States can apply for Global Entry, a program that allows for expedited entry into the U.S. following international travel.

Global Entry Kiosks

Global Entry Kiosks


Customs declaration form not needed with NEXUS or Global Entry program membership

Not needed with Global Entry

Citizens of the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Panama, South Korea, Columbia, Singapore and Mexican nationals are also eligible to enroll for the Global Entry program.

Once approved, members of the Global Entry program will experience accelerated entry processes when entering the U.S., which means reduced security line wait times, no paperwork, and no processing lines.

Global Entry members also receive SENTRI and NEXUS benefits as well for expedited land and sea border crossings between the U.S. and Mexico and the U.S. and Canada, respectively.

Pretty handy for road trips!

PreCheck Included!
Members of Global Entry are also approved for TSA PreCheck automatically. There is no need to apply again and your KTN will be on the back of your Global Entry card and be labeled as a PASS ID.

The actual physical card, along with all included benefits are why many choose to enroll in Global Entry instead of TSA PreCheck.

At only $100 for 5 years of membership it’s quite affordable comparing it to the cost of TSA PreCheck. 

See all application questions here



The SENTRI program allows for accelerated border security processing upon arriving to the U.S. by land or air from Mexico.

Sentri lanesCitizens of any country are eligible to apply for the SENTRI program, though those under 18 must complete the process with a parent or legal guardian.

Again, Members of the SENTRI program have TSA PreCheck included in membership.

SENTRI card with Global Entry card.An actual SENTRI card will be mailed out once accepted.

SENTRI members also receive Global Entry and NEXUS benefits.

You can find all about SENTRI here.


Members of the NEXUS program receive expedited border security processing when entering the U.S. from Canada by land or sea.

Low-risk citizens of the U.S. and Canada are eligible for NEXUS memberships.

A radio frequency identification card is issued to every approved member of NEXUS, to be used at designated kiosks.

NEXUS official logo for Customs and ImmigrationMembers of NEXUS are also approved for TSA PreCheck and have Global Entry and SENTRI benefits as well.

You can find out more about NEXUS and here.

Really…there is not huge difference between the above three programs once you are accepted as all share benefits and all have TSA PreCheck.


So there you have it. Our rundown of TSA PreCheck.

We use Global Entry and having TSA PreCheck on our board pass every time we fly is well worth any application fee. We turn into happy travelers not having to wait in line.

AA Bording pass with TSA PreCheck

Now it’s your turn to decide which is right for you.

And do so soon, before more the CBP or TSA change membership requirements!

Have additional question or information you think is helpful for others to know about TSA PreCheck applicaion or locations? Let us know!

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