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This fall, air travelers saw an event that’s been rare in recent years: a price drop.
The cost for the Transportation Security Agency’s (TSA) PreCheck program — a.k.a. the shorter security line at the airport where everyone keeps their shoes on — decreased from $85 to $78. Membership lasts for five years, bringing the cost to less than $16 a year.
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Though PreCheck is popular with frequent fliers, travel experts say the new price is prompting others to consider the program — even those who fly just a few times a year.
If you’re not familiar with PreCheck, the program is designed to allow low-risk travelers to move through airport security checkpoints with ease via faster screening and less physical contact. The PreCheck benefits include:
- Designated security lines.
- Shoes, belts and light jackets stay on during screening.
- Laptops and other electronics stay in carry-on bags.
- Liquids and toiletries (up to 3.4 ounces) stay in carry-on bags.
“Basically, you can travel like it's pre-9/11,” says Christopher Elliott, editor of the travel newsletter Elliott Confidential.
According to the TSA, 91 percent of PreCheck passengers spent less than five minutes waiting in security lines in October 2022. “TSA makes a pretty compelling pitch,” Elliott says.
Signing up is easier than getting a passport. Travelers apply online and provide basic information for a background check (name, birthdate, etc.), then schedule a 10-minute in-person appointment at one of 500 locations, including many AAA offices and even some Staples stores.