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Tips and Tricks for a Stress-Free Travel Experience: TSA Pre✓ ®

Flying anywhere these days means going through some sort of government-mandated, overseen and/or operated security screening process. Anyone who's flown on a commercial airliner in the United States since 2002 has had to pass through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at the airport from which their flight originated, in fact. So where does that leave you, the weary traveler just trying to get through TSA security and onto your plane? Fortunately, there's assistance. And it's called "TSA Pre✓ ®."

TSA's pre-check system (trademarked Pre✓ ®) allows approved air travelers to significantly reduce the time they spend in line and at one of the agency's many security checkpoints. Once approved, a traveler won't have to remove their shoes. They also won't need to take their computer laptop out and place it in a separate tray, won't have to remove any liquids from carryon luggage and can dispense with removing their belt or taking off a light jacket, if they're wearing one.

Avoiding all the above steps can save any traveler a great deal of time, not to mention it will also eliminate the aggravation, stress, and worry of doing so. And according to TSA, 95 percent of all travelers approved for Pre✓ ® waited less than 5 minutes in a line passing through security. A January 2019 article at the National Public Radio website supports the ease with which these status holders can travel. Even during the current government shutdown, which has affected TSA's operations, most Pre✓ ® travelers still waited less than the official TSA 10-minute standard.

What's more, even the hardest-hit TSA-staffed airports still saw Pre✓ ® average wait times for passengers of only 14 minutes. Note, however, that 99 percent of all passengers, even the non-Pre✓ ® ones, were still making it through TSA security lines in less than 30 minutes, with 97 percent making it in 15 minutes or less. Imagine how quickly Pre✓ ® passengers, then, are getting through lines at many airports in this, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Imagine what you could do with that extra 15 to 25 minutes you gain, then, from breezing through TSA’s security lines.

Gaining TSA Pre✓ ® status requires you to make an application through that agency first. But you can apply online through TSA's website to get the ball rolling. Once you submit the online application, you'll be set up for a 10 minute, in-person appointment that includes fingerprinting as well as a background check. TSA and its parent organization, the Department of Homeland Security, are both very efficient at processing prints and background checks, so don't worry about being stuck in an endless waiting period. Once approved, you'll be issued a Known Traveler Number you can have added to your airline ticket and begin speeding through TSA security.

TSA's Pre✓ ® is good for 5 years, costs only $85 for membership and is good at more than 200 airports and with 56 airlines. Plus, it will quickly pay for itself in time saved, and aggravation avoided. And it's one of the best ways of creating a stress-free travel experience for yourself and your loved ones. If you travel internationally, you can opt to go for TSA’s Global Entry approval, which significantly reduces your time going through many other countries’ security stations. The application fee is only $100 and for that you’ll also be automatically signed up for Pre✓ ®, meaning your entire international-to-U.S. travel experience and beyond will be seamless and relaxed. More to come on TSA Global Entry in the next post.

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