Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×
Search
Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

What Is TSA PreCheck at Airports?

spinner image People in Security Line, Denver Airport, What Is TSA PreCheck at Airports?
TSA PreCheck may be getting easier. Is it finally time for you to sign up?
GETTY IMAGES

 | We’ve all been there — in the security line at the airport, rushing to take off our shoes, undo our belts, remove liquids and take out our laptops. It's all part of the additional security screenings that began following the 9/11 attacks of 2001. About 10 years later, the Transportation Security Administration came up with a system, TSA PreCheck, to streamline airport screenings. As we approach six years since the program started, we look at how it’s changed so you can decide whether it’s worth spending the money to enroll.

To many passengers, TSA PreCheck is a way to pay to get through security faster. The official definition from the Department of Homeland Security is: “an expedited screening program that makes risk assessments about passengers prior to their arrival at an airport checkpoint." The service provides expedited screening for known and trusted travelers at security checkpoints, which allows TSA to focus resources on high-risk and unknown passengers — better protecting everyone. 

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine. Find out how much you could save in a year with a membership. Learn more.

Join Now

Since the program started in December 2011 at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport, it has expanded to 200 airports. Just this month, Bismarck Municipal Airport, a small terminal in North Dakota, began enrolling members. 

One of the complaints among passengers at first was the lack of airlines participating — especially low-cost carriers. The TSA needs airline participation in order to get traveler information before flights. Now 37 airlines are part of the program. 

The cost is $85 for a five-year membership. You will also need to take two big steps to sign up — applying online and going to an enrollment center for an in-person background check. The centers are no longer limited to larger cities; there are now 380 enrollment centers, according to the TSA.

As long as you’re cleared, and your airport and airline are part of PreCheck, you won’t need to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets during the typical screening. 

While the TSA doesn’t offer discounted memberships for seniors or people with disabilities, some credit card companies and loyalty programs offer promotions. Travelers 75 and older should also know that the TSA allows those passengers to leave shoes and a light jacket on during the standard screening. 

According to the TSA, 97 percent of PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes in the security line, on average, in August 2017.

AARP Travel Center

Or Call: 1-800-675-4318

Enter a valid departing date

Enter a valid returning date

Age of children:

Child under 2 must either sit in laps or in seats:

Enter a valid departing date

Age of children:

Child under 2 must either sit in laps or in seats:

Enter a valid departing date

Age of children:

Child under 2 must either sit in laps or in seats:

Flight 2

Enter a valid departing date

Flight 3

Enter a valid departing date

Flight 4

Enter a valid departing date

Flight 5

Enter a valid departing date

+ Add Another Flight

Enter a valid checking in date

Enter a valid checking out date


Occupants of Room 1:



Occupants of Room 2:



Occupants of Room 3:



Occupants of Room 4:



Occupants of Room 5:



Occupants of Room 6:



Occupants of Room 7:



Occupants of Room 8:


Enter a valid departing date

Enter a valid returning date

Age of children:

Occupants of Room 1:

Age of children:


Occupants of Room 2:

Age of children:


Occupants of Room 3:

Age of children:


Occupants of Room 4:

Age of children:


Occupants of Room 5:

Age of children:

Age of children:

Child under 2 must either sit in laps or in seats:

Enter a valid start date

Enter a valid drop off date

Select a valid to location

Select a month

Enter a valid from date

Enter a valid to date