6 Reasons You Might Not Receive (or Even WANT) Your TSA PreCheck Benefits

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

6 Reasons You Might Not Receive (or Even WANT) Your TSA PreCheck Benefits

Joseph Hostetler6 Reasons You Might Not Receive (or Even WANT) Your TSA PreCheck BenefitsMillion Mile Secrets Team

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

TSA PreCheck is messianically popular because:

  • You get an exclusive security lane (usually MUCH shorter)
  • You won’t have to remove your toiletries or computer from your bag
  • You don’t need to take off your shoes or jacket

That’s a big time-saver.  Plus, a 5-year membership to TSA PreCheck costs just $85.  And if you pay with the right card, you can get it completely free:

Even with a membership, there are still a large number of reasons you’ll NOT receive (or even WANT) your TSA PreCheck benefits.  But most are easily avoidable.

I’ll give you a quick list to help you out!  And you can subscribe to our newsletter for more travel tips like these.

Kids under 12 can go through the TSA PreCheck lane with you for free. Ages 12 and up will need their own membership

TSA PreCheck Is NEVER a Certainty If…

Link:   TSA PreCheck Enrollment Review

1.   You Don’t Attach Your Known Traveler Number to Your Airline Account

When you sign-up for TSA PreCheck, you’ll be assigned a Known Traveler Number.  This number tells the world that you’re not a threat to American lives.  You can pass through security checkpoints without removing your belt, jacket, etc.

When you receive this number, you’ll need to log into all of your airline loyalty accounts and add it to the “Secure Traveler” section.  Here’s an example of where you’d enter the number in your American Airlines account.

After that, you’ll be eligible automatically when you book a flight through American Airlines.  You’ll see “TSA Pre” on your boarding pass.

You cannot use the TSA PreCheck lane if your boarding pass doesn’t say TSA Pre.  Even if you have proof of membership (like a Global Entry card), you can’t just walk through the TSA PreCheck lane and flash your credentials at the security officer.

2.   You Book With an Airline That Doesn’t Participate in TSA PreCheck

There are 2 parts to this section.

First:   Not all airlines participate in TSA PreCheck.  For example, if you’re flying Aer Lingus to Ireland, you won’t be able to pass through security faster than anyone else.

Non-participating airlines are dwindling, so this shouldn’t be too much of a concern.

Second:   If you book a flight from a non-participating airline on a participating airline, you may not qualify for TSA PreCheck.

That was a really clunky sentence.  Here’s a real life example:  Iberia and American Airlines are partners.  Iberia doesn’t participate in TSA PreCheck, but American Airlines does.

I booked an American Airlines flight through Iberia, and because they didn’t recognize my TSA PreCheck membership, I was unable to receive the benefit on my American Airlines flight.

This point may be a your mileage may vary situation.  If you’ve got data points to the contrary, leave a comment.

3.   You Don’t Go Through the Dedicated TSA PreCheck Lane

I’ve made this mistake.

Just because you’ve got a membership to TSA PreCheck doesn’t mean those benefits follow you around wherever you go.  You have to go through the dedicated lane.

I wrote a recent post about how I tried showing my TSA PreCheck-approved boarding pass at the NON-TSA PreCheck lane, and I was told I’d have to disrobe just like everyone else.  Pretty obvious in hindsight.

4.   You’re Traveling With an Infant

There seems to be some correlation between randomly not being issued TSA PreCheck and traveling with an infant.  For some reason that may occasionally disqualify you.  Meghan has found this to be true when traveling with her adorable little daughter.

You SHOULD receive it, but don’t be dumbstruck if you don’t.

5.   TSA PreCheck Lanes Aren’t Always Open

TSA PreCheck lanes aren’t open 24/7.  They open and close at different times depending on the airport.

If you’ve booked an oddball flight time, you may very well arrive at the airport to see an unmanned TSA PreCheck lane.  You can check out this page to see TSA PreCheck operating hours for each airport.

6.   You Don’t Want to Leave Your 12+ Year Old Kids Behind

Kids age 12+ years will need their own TSA PreCheck membership to pass through the lane with you.  So you’ll have to either spring for the $85 application for each child or cash-in a TSA PreCheck credit that comes with a credit card.

If you’ve got TSA PreCheck but your children are now of age that they need their own membership, better to forfeit your perks and walk through the regular line with them.

Bonus:   Sometimes You’ll Simply Be Denied

Even with a TSA PreCheck membership, it’s not guaranteed every single time.  I’ve received a handful of boarding passes with no TSA PreCheck benefits for seemingly no reason.  My success rate has been ~95% though.

Bottom Line

TSA PreCheck isn’t a given, even if you’re an official member.  There are several things that can foil your expedited security, but almost all are avoidable.

Let me know if you’ve experienced other circumstances that forfeit your TSA PreCheck benefits, and I’ll add them to the list!

And sign-up for our newsletter for more travel tips:

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 36,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!


by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Great information, thank you. Regarding your last point: I know of TSA qualified travelers that seemingly randomly, and contrary to their expectations, did not have “TSA-Pre” on their boarding pass when checking in online. In both cases these travelers were able to go to airline’s ticketing desk and ask them to reprint their boarding pass with the pre-check indicator on it.

I’ve read of this happening and it seems like it’s usually because the name wasn’t an exact match with TSA’s “list”.

Either that or maybe the system just has a hiccup everyone once in awhile.

Last month I was flying out of Indianapolis (IND). PreCheck was open, but it is located in Concourse A and my flight was leaving from Concourse B. Although the lines were shorter and I got through quickly, it would have taken less time to go through the normal lines and not make the trek back and forth from Concourse A to B.

My husband has been denied precheck when his middle initial was listed with the airline but his whole middle name was listed for TSA. Make sure your name matches exactly.

Excellent reminder!

My middle name has a hyphen (which shows up on my Global entry profile) and I was worried that would give me problems because a lot of airlines’ frequent flyer profiles don’t allow a hyphen as a special character.

But apparently putting a space instead of a hyphen is enough to get it to match!

I was in a TSA Pre Check Lane in Manchester New Hampshire several years ago. They were manually inspecting all baggage contents. I asked the agent to use new rubber gloves to paw through my clothes. The TSA agent acted “put out,” hesitated and then made a big production of putting fresh gloves on. I didn’t know why they were going through all the bags in TSA Pre Check Lane.

Interesting. I wonder if it was just a one-off, or if they routinely check all the bags that way.

“Messianically.” Nice. 🙂

Load more