Starting last October, the Toilet Safety Administration Transportation "Security" Administration rolled out the Pre-Check program, which allows members of the various Trusted Traveler Programs (NEXUS, Global Entry, & SENTRI), as well as certain frequent fliers on Alaska, American, Delta, United & US Airways to enroll in the Pre-Check program. If selected for Pre-Check access at the checkpoint, fliers are able to skip the body scanners or groping, and utlize the walk-through metal detector. Additionally, TSA permits you to leave your laptop and liquids in your carry-on bag, and keep your shoes on. Basically what most countries let you do as a normal passenger.
I have been able to use Pre-Check about five times since January, and some of my experiences with the program can be found here and here. I was also able to use it this morning in Portland, Oregon, allowing me to clear the security theater checkpoint in 30 seconds!
As many of you know, I am a strong opponent of the TSA, as I find that the majority of their "tactics" are useless, and just a waste of our tax dollars. The TSA is an organization that closes the barn door after the horse has escaped, rather than follow other agencies around the world that are truly risk-based, which is believed to be a better way for security organizations to stop potential terrorists. And with the number of TSA employees arrested for such crimes as allowing drug smugglers to go around the body scanners, I find it hard to believe that they could actually stop a terrorist from transiting a checkpoint. After all, if somebody can pay off a TSA clerk to carry drugs through the checkpoint, what's to stop them paying to carry explosives through?
Now with Pre-Check, I appreciate the thought the TSA has put into the program, although I think it still has a ways to go. Although there are currently twenty Pre-Check enabled airports, that number is quite small when you compare it to the number of airports in the United States. I am hoping that TSA drastically increases the number of airports by the end of the year. Such places as Denver, San Francisco, and Washington-Dulles would be great candidates, and frankly, I'm surprised that they weren't first on the list. Oh, well. Below is a list of airports currently running Pre-Check, and here is a link to a detailed chart of Pre-Check locations.
If you are a Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI member, and are having issues with Pre-Check, you're not alone. I recently spoke to the AA Executive Platinum Desk, and the topic of Pre-Check came up during our conversation. The agent went on to mention that they had been getting a lot of phone calls from annoyed AA elite members, who used to have a 100% success rate with Pre-Check, and are now being sent to the regular line each time they fly. I mentioned that I had seen the same issue, after not clearing on a recent round-trip to Dallas. Unbeknownst to me, TSA sent a letter to American, informing them of the need for the names of passengers to match what is on file with CBP or CBSA though NEXUS.
For example, if your airline account has Bob Jones, but your GOES (the Global Online Enrollment System, which you use to sign up for a Truster Traveler Program) account has Bob James Jones, then the TSA may not be associating your information properly, when it "decides" who can and can not have access. One would think that this would not be a problem as long as the PASS ID # was in the record. Then again, this is the TSA we are dealing with.
If you are unsure of where to find your PASS ID #, there are two places you could find it. Either on the back of your SENTRI, NEXUS, or Global Entry Card, or in your GOES account. The picture below is what the back the program cards look like, and shows where to find the PASS ID #.
image courtesy; TSA
As another example, I failed to get Pre-Check on my last trip to Dallas, likely due to the fact that my middle name was not submitted in my Secure Flight Data. The agent at American suggested I go ahead and update my AAdvantage account, and she would make sure my middle name was submitted on the flights I flew this past Wednesday (JFK-SFO-PDX). This seemed to help, as I cleared Pre-Check both at JFK on Wednesday, and then also this morning at PDX, on an Alaska Airlines ticket.
Of course, the TSA maintains that selection for Pre-Check is "random", so there are no guarantees that this will work. However, I can tell you that others have reported success by ensuring that the name on their reservation matches 100% to their GOES account.
In the mean time, if you have any experiences with Pre-Check, or any questions about the program, feel free to comment below.