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Travelling Secure with Family

 Photo courtesy: Grant Wickes

Last week, I posted this blog by Mommy Points on our Facebook page, about how much of an aid the TSA Pre-CheckTM  is for families on the go. But because travel security is such a hot topic, I felt compelled to continue the conversation on our blog.

Frequent travellers and international travellers are probably very familiar with the TSA Pre-Check program. And its a very popular program: two weeks ago, TSA announced that three million frequent travelers have opted into the screening program. I think that's a good sign that this isn't just another failed experiment - this one is going to stick around for a while.

For those not familiar with Pre-Check, here's how it works: if you're a frequent flyer of a number of airlines, or are a member of an expedited international entry system (such as Global Entry or NEXUS), you may be invited to opt into the system. Once you've opted in, you will be able to expedite your security experience. From the TSA Website:

If TSA determines a passenger is eligible for expedited screening, information is embedded in the barcode of the passenger’s boarding pass. TSA reads the barcode at designated checkpoints and the passenger may be referred to a lane where they will undergo expedited screening, which could include no longer removing the following items:

  • Shoes
  • 3-1-1 compliant bag from carry-on
  • Laptop from bag
  • Light outerwear/jacket
  • Belt
Source: TSA.gov

Sounds brilliant, right? Who wouldn't want to go through the expedited security run and not have to worry about taking out their bag of liquids, belt, shoes, and laptop all at the speed of sound? Plus, you get to skip the controversial body scanner and free patdown.

That all being said, there seem to be three minor flaws in this otherwise great system that should probably be addressed:

  1. Pre-Check is currently only available at 26 airports in the United States
    Granted, these 26 are some of the busiest airports in the United States, but its limited availability makes it a hit-or-miss proposition. It is of no help to me when I fly through my home airport (Port Columbus), but seeing as how its a state capitol, there's hope that it might come through someday...right?
  2. Pre-Check is currently only available through five airlines
    Again, these are five of the busiest airlines by international volume (Alaska, American, Delta, United, and US Airways), but like many travellers, my allegiances are very easily overwritten by price. Pre-Check doesn't help me if I don't fly one of these airlines...but when I do fly them? It will be of absolute help.
  3. Pre-Check is not consistently offered between airports and airlines
    Betweeen the five airlines and 26 airports, there are only a small number airports that offer Pre-Check across the board. Among them: Minneapolis-St. Paul, Portland International, and Seattle-Tacoma International, and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky. I'm sure that there are logistical purposes for this, but it would be nice to see more buy-in, especially at the bigger airports in volume (like JFK and LaGuardia in New York, and even Philadelphia International).

Are these things going to stop me from applying for Pre-Check status? Absolutely not - once it gets rolled out to more airports, its going to be a huge timesaver for my travels. I plan on applying if I get approved for NEXUS, which I plan on applying for sometime next year. Should you apply for it? I would suggest it, as it would make your travels that much easier when flying by plane.

Are you already a member of Pre-Check? How do you like it? If not, do you plan on getting Pre-Check status in the near future? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


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