Believe the hype, parents: enrolling in TSA Pre-Check is worth it, even if you only travel by air once a year.
And you’ll get your chance again in a few days, when a TSA Pre-Check temporary enrollment event returns to Willard Airport for one week only, March 28-April 1.
What is TSA Pre-Check? TSA Pre-Check status allows travelers to go through designated security lines as a “known traveler,” which expedites the process.
One of the main benefits is that TSA Pre-Check travelers do not have to remove shoes, approved liquids, laptops, light outerwear or belts while going through security checkpoints.
A few years ago when Willard Airport announced that TSA Pre-Check would be conducting interviews during a limited engagement, I was ecstatic. Before this opportunity, getting that elusive TSA Pre-Check interview was difficult. It meant an extra trip to Chicago, Springfield, or Effingham (there’s not even an airport there!), difficult for any parent.
How does TSA PreCheck work? Essentially, it’s a background check. They take your information and fingerprints. If you “pass,” you get what is called a “Known Traveler Number,” and the airlines put that on your boarding pass.
To participate in the enrollment event, you will need to start an application for new enrollment using the online form. Starting the application will allow you to reserve an appointment time for an in-person interview at Willard Airport, and don’t delay; appointments will go quickly. When I had my “interview,” I was in and out of the airport in less than 30 minutes.
If you don’t fly a lot, but plan to travel with (or without) your children even once a year, it could be worth your while to enroll in PreCheck. TSA Pre-Check program benefits only qualify during domestic travel. If you travel internationally, consider applying for Global Entry; that isn’t available through this event and has its own enrollment process.
Here are three reasons WHY parents should enroll in TSA PreCheck:
1) Family members ages 12 and under traveling with an eligible parent or guardian with a TSA PreCheck indicator on their boarding pass are also given PreCheck status. There is no limit on the number of kids you can bring with you, believe me I checked. (Kids of any age can apply for their own individual PreCheck benefits. If your child flies as an unaccompanied minor or with other family members, that is a reason to apply for them individually if under 13.)
2) It’s cost efficient. If you can afford air travel these days, you can afford PreCheck. PreCheck for adults (and kids aged 13-and-older) costs $85; the status is good for five years. If one adult travels with two children on one flight a year; the cost is less than $6 per person. This alone can be a reason to go through the process.
and perhaps the most important reason:
3) While getting through security at Willard can be a breeze (benefits of a small airport), security lines at busy airports such as Orlando, Atlanta, and Phoenix can be onerous and time-consuming. With TSA Pre-check status, parents can concentrate on getting their family through security successfully — and without major incident.
It has always amazed me what TSA expects parents to deal with in crowded security lines, while still being PARENTS. Let’s see — we have to take off shoes, pull out baby food, remove laptops, liquids, etc. — all while keeping track of the kids (who have to be out of strollers at that point, of course). I don’t recall having 16 hands, only two. PreCheck actually empowers safety and security of families — and can save your sanity, to boot.