TSA Pre-Check

We finally did it… we went through the process and got our Known Traveler Number (KTN). For the life of me, I don’t know why I kept putting it off. I told myself to do it, then would debate if I had the time, was I going to be traveling enough this year to make it worthwhile, and so on.

The process was straightforward.  Of course, I had a few hiccups because, well, it’s me, and that’s the way I roll. To apply, simply go to the TSA website and apply online using this form, find an enrollment location near you (ours was about a 45-minute drive) and schedule an appointment.  At your in-person appointment, you will be fingerprinted, photographed, and required to present your required, valid documents.  If you have a passport, you are all set.  If you don’t have a passport, you will need a driver’s license as well as your ORIGINAL birth certificate.  For those of you with younger kids, you might be pleasantly surprised to know that children 12 and under are permitted to use the pre-check line when traveling with a parent who is enrolled in the program. Children 13-17 must enroll in the program and must have a photo ID, either a passport or driver’s license, to enroll.

Our in-person appointment was quick.  We got our fingerprints and photos taken, provided our documents and paid our $85.00 fee in about 15 minutes. One of the hiccups we had was that I didn’t realize my son’s passport was expired.  Luckily, it had expired less than a year ago so we were still able to use it.  Phew!  Also, because he experiences fine motor issues, getting his fingers “just right” on the fingerprint machine was a bit of a challenge.  If you have a similar issue, I suggest bringing someone with you that can assist you with finger placement.  And, although we were told it could take 2-3 weeks to receive our KTN number, we received it within a week and in plenty of time for our next trip.

Soooo, on to the real question…“Did it make a difference?” And the answer is yes!

We were able to walk right up to the TSA Pre-Check line with no wait.  The non-pre-check-line had a posted 35-minute wait time.  We placed our bags on the belt without the hassle of having to remove our toiletries, computers, iPads, etc.  We just plopped our bags down and walked right through the metal detector.  Yup, that’s right, no x-ray machine.  My son’s wheelchair could not go through the metal detector, so they escorted him to a TSA agent who did his check.  I felt like his screening was quicker and more pleasant. He said that he felt that it was about the same but nice not to have to wait for long for an agent.

One of the main reasons I chose to sign up for TSA Pre-Check was to make travel easier for my son. When you are in a wheelchair, it can be an invasive screening in addition to it taking longer.  With TSA pre-Check, the process was much less invasive, much like me walking through the metal detector instead of the x-ray. And since he does not have to take his electronics out of his bag or remove his shoes it will be easier for him to go through security on his own. Independence is a big deal in our family and we want to make sure that he has as much as he can.