Reduce Your Wait Time at Airport Security Checkpoints

Updated on January 31, 2017:

With the ever increasing lines at airport security checkpoints, travelers are becoming more frustrated with the lengthy delays.

If you fly several times a year, you can reduce your wait time at security checkpoints in many airports throughout the U.S. This would involve becoming a member of the TSA Preè program or the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler Programs including Global Entry or NEXUS for Canadian citizens.

Members of these programs are considered low-risk and will receive expedited screening through a TSA Pre√® lane at security checkpoints. There are more than 180 participating airports in the U.S., and the list is growing. To find out what airports are included, visit TSA’s website. Members must also fly on one of the 30 participating airlines.

Once approved as a member of TSA Pre√®, you will be assigned a known traveler number (KTN). Members of the trusted traveler programs will receive a CBP PASSID number that will serve as the known traveler number.This number needs to be given when making reservations with one of the participating airlines. The KTN will be embedded in the barcode of the boarding pass. When the boarding pass is scanned at the security checkpoint, the officer will refer you to the TSA Pre√® lane. The airline will also print a TSA indicator on the boarding pass as confirmation that you are eligible. Your trusted traveler card cannot be used for accessing TSA Pre√® lanes.

Current Participating TSA Pre® Airlines

In order to be eligible for expedited screening, you will need to fly on one of the following airlines: Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, American Airlines, Aruba Airlines, Avianca, Boutique Airlines, Cape Air, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines,  JetBlue Airways, Key Lime Air, Lufthansa, Miami Air International, OneJet, Seaborne Airlines, Southern Airways Express, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Sunwing, United Airlines, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, WestJet, and Xtra Airways.

If you make reservations through a travel agent or an online booking site like Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, etc., it is a good idea to follow up with the airline to ensure your known traveler number was transmitted correctly.


Members will receive expedited security screening through the faster moving lines at TSA Preè lanes. You will not need to remove your belt, shoes, laptop, jacket, or 3-1-1 compliant bag when going through security (unless asked to do so during random checks).

Children 12 and under can go through TSA Preè lanes if they are traveling with a parent who is a member. Family members over the age of 12 must go through standard security lanes if they are not a member.

                                                                                              Photo from tbo

How to Apply for Membership:

Find out what program would be most beneficial to you. When membership in the TSA Pre√® program expires, you will be required to re-apply.  Members of the trusted traveler programs can renew by calling 855-873-4637.

Application Requirements:

You can submit an application online and schedule an in-person appointment at the closest enrollment center. This will entail a background check, an interview with a U.S. border representative, fingerprinting, and a retina scan. Requirements include:

  • Proof of citizenship (passport, certified birth certificate, Canadian citizenship certificate or card)
  • Proof of permanent residency (valid driver’s license or federal identification card)
  • There is no age restriction
  • Cannot have a criminal recordDepartures Airport Sign Free Image Download

Members of the Armed Forces:

The TSA Preè expedited screening process includes all of our honorable Members of the Armed Forces, as well as those serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Reserves, and National Guard. They do not have to apply for the program, since they are automatically included.

When making flight reservations, the Department of Defense identification number should be used for the known traveler number and given to the airline when making reservations. Members of the Armed Forces can travel on personal or official travel and do not need to be in their uniform.

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 For insightful travel ideas, check out my book:

Know Before You Go: Traveling the U.S. and Abroad

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Know Before You Go:  Traveling the U.S. and Abroad by [Patterson, Stephanie Tehan]

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