If you are on the fence about whether to join a trusted traveler program, these are some interesting numbers from the TSA PreCheck website.
Are Trusted Traveler Programs Worth the Money?
The TSA PreCheck is $85 for 5 years, or an average of $17 per year. Global Entry costs $100 for 5 years. Personally, I considered Global Entry “TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry: Which is Better?” to be the better program since TSA PreCheck is included. I tend to break down the cost-benefit this way:
TSA Entry or Global Entry?
If you don’t plan or expect to travel internationally within a 5-year span, save yourself $15 and get TSA PreCheck. If you have plans to travel internationally, Global Entry is the way to go.
Do you need expedited security screening?
No, no one needs TSA PreCheck. The regular screening lines work fine, and it won’t cost you a cent more. If you fly infrequently, the membership won’t do you too much good. If you fly on a semi-regular basis, you’ll want the expedited screening.
What about actual experience?
Can you actually get through the screening in 5 minutes, given the TSA PreCheck’s November wait time stats for 93% of passengers?
I had been jetting around during these busy holiday months, and I certainly expected longer lines and longer waits. To my surprise, I was still able to breeze through most of the TSA PreCheck lines in just under than 5 minutes (while those in my party without expedited screening took about 15 minutes). There was a lone exception with one airport (LAS) where the TSA PreCheck line was about 10-15 minutes. The regular security line was even longer.
I know TSA PreCheck helped me on a close call on at least one occasion.
Generally speaking, the benefits are worth it to me. Aside from the time-saving, I like not having to go through the full-body scan every single time, or needing to take out my laptop. Or shoes. (Though I had to take them off since my boots contain metal)
Keep in mind that you can still be subject to random searches.
Of course, it won’t go as smoothly if When TSA PreCheck isn’t Printed on Your Boarding Pass.
I didn’t think the expedited screening was something I’d care for, but I can’t imagine not using it now. When it all works the way it should, the trusted traveler program is quite a good value proposition for my traveling needs.
Who knows. It might just be worth it, for you too.
Are you thinking about signing up for a trusted traveler program? If you have TSA PreCheck, what has been your experience? Have you been able to breeze through the airport in less than 5 minutes?