Missionary Flights – Is TSA Pre-Check Right for Me?
If you have traveled any time in the last few years, – for missionary flights or otherwise – you may have noticed some people in the security line are being funneled through to a different screening process. If you’re wondering what that’s all about (are they Very Important Travelers? Diplomats? Are they just cooler than I am? Do they have fancy futuristic shoes that don’t need to be taken off? What is even happening?) then here is some helpful information about it:
Those folks are in the TSA pre-check line. They have each been assigned a Known Traveler Number (KTN), either by invite through their frequent flyer programs, or by applying with the TSA directly. The main benefit of signing up for TSA Pre-Check is clearance to an expedited security line, which means:
- no need to remove shoes, belt, or jackets*
- no need to open laptops
- no need to remove 3-1-1 liquid bags
Passengers still need to walk through a body scanner, and send their bags through an x-ray belt, *and randomly selected passengers will still need to do extra checks or (such as removing belts or having other metal scans), but in general, these lines tend to move much faster than the traditional security process, which means you can be on your way faster.
If you are not already enrolled in TSA’s pre-check, you can apply online and receive your KTN. To apply, you must pay a nonrefundable application fee of $85, be a law abiding US citizen, and submit to a background check (providing your social security number, residence and employment history, and fingerprints – to be checked against law enforcement and intelligence records). You may pre-enroll online at this site, or by going to any TSA enrollment office (click here for a list of locations) (appointments recommended).
Once you have your KTN, be sure to give it to your travel agent to be entered into your reservation. For airlines that participate, there will be a TSA Pre-check indicator printed on your boarding pass.
So, is TSA Pre-Check right for you and your missionary flights? If you travel with some regularity, and are familiar with security screenings and would like to be on your way more quickly, this could be a good choice. If you travel only infrequently, or if you like getting to the airport many hours early anyway, then this program might not be worth it. (During peak travel hours at certain busy airports, some passengers who are not pre-registered will still be randomly selected for managed inclusion in the shorter pre-check line, since statistics show that this does not have an impact on overall safety and security. So keep that in mind, if paying for a program while occasional other travelers get occasional free access to it, is something you would find upsetting.)
But to answer the question of if you’re cool enough: yes, you definitely are. Even on missionary flights or mission travel.
Other things to consider:
- Adults who are enrolled in Pre-check may also bring children, if they are traveling with them, through the expedited screening line. Children must be under 12 and booked on the same reservation.
- Not all specially expedited security lines are open at all times, so always leave enough time for extra security, just in case.
- For full information about this program, visit the TSA Pre-Check website.