I’ve mention TSA PreCheck a few times, but today I want to dive into how useful it is and why everyone should sign up.

In the summer of 2013 the TSA announced the TSA PreCheck program would open up to everyone. The program used to be tied to Airlines Frequent Flyers. If you were TSA Pre with United, the benefit didn’t necessarily carryover to American, etc. This was incredibly frustrating for frequent flyers that needed to fly on a different airline for whatever reason. Follow the 2013 announcement, travelers would be assigned a known traveler number (KTN) which would be added to 13 Airlines frequent flyer accounts.

Applying for TSA PreCheck is incredibly simple and overall an easy process. First, visit https://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/apply. From this page you can locate an application center. There are several application centers in big cities, but in smaller cities, typically the application center is located at the airport. The simplest way to apply is to pre-apply online by filling out the Pre-Enroll form. Once the form is filled out, you select an application center and schedule your appointment.

The appointment takes less than 10 minutes!

That’s right, you walk in, take a few fingerprints, and pay. That’s it! I couldn’t believe how easy the whole process was. It took about a week for me to get my KTN, but some people report getting a KTN the next day so results vary. Once you receive your KTN you must add it to your various frequent flyer accounts. If you forget to add it to the account, you will be very disappointed when your boarding pass does not have the TSA PreCheck stamp on it. Just because you have a KTN doesn’t mean that you get TSA PreCheck at the airport. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen people arguing with TSA agents that they are TSA PreCheck, but it is not on their boarding pass.

When you get TSA PreCheck, you have access to the fast lane security lines. Security typically takes less than 5 minutes at any airport. The shorter lines are great, but not having to take off your shoes, leaving your laptop in your bag, leaving liquids in your bag, leaving your belt, watch, jewelry etc. on is a huge benefit. Security is no longer painful. Plus, you don’t have to go through the body scanner!

(Read: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/tsa-screener-confession-102912)

Lastly, TSA PreCheck lasts for 5-years! I recently asked about the re-application process and the TSA had no idea what was going to happen because the program isn’t 5 years old yet and people haven’t had to re-apply. For just $89 you get 5-years of quick and easy security. Some credit cards will even reimburse the TSA PreCheck fee!

I love TSA PreCheck, I signed up for the short lines, but not having to strip down and empty my laptop bag every time I fly has kept me coming back. I highly recommend everyone sign up!