I Almost Forfeited My TSA PreCheck Privileges by Thinking I Was Smarter Than Everyone Else

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A complaint I’ve heard several times about TSA PreCheck is this:   Because more people are enrolling in the program, the lines are longer.  Sometimes they’re MUCH longer than the regular ol’ security line.

I too have found TSA PreCheck lines to be occasionally longer.  But I’ve got no problem with it.  TSA PreCheck is about way more than short lines.  I’ll explain!

As a reminder, you can get a reimbursement for TSA PreCheck (up to $100) with the following cards:

TSA PreCheck is one of the best ways to immediately upgrade your travel experience.  You can subscribe to our newsletter for more tips to traveling like a seasoned vet.

TSA PreCheck isn’t about shorter lines.  It’s about FASTER lines

The TSA PreCheck Lane Is Faster – Even When the Line Is Much Longer

I live near some pretty chill airports.  None have ever been frighteningly busy, and thanks to my TSA PreCheck membership, I’d say I’ve always arrived at my gate within 15 minutes of arrival.  TSA PreCheck gives members a dedicated lane, which is usually much shorter than the primary (and oft crowded) security lane.

On top of that, you won’t have to:

  • Remove your toiletries from your bag
  • Remove your computer from your bag
  • Take off your shoes, belt, jacket, etc.

This is a huge saver of both time and dignity.

Flying out of Dayton recently, the TSA PreCheck lane was much longer than usual (perhaps 10 travelers in line).  Meanwhile, the normal security lane was a ghost town.  NOBODY in line.  The common-sense traveler that I am, I decide to enter the lane with less people.

Handing my ID to the TSA officer, I made a disparaging comment about the other travelers whose horse blinders prevented them from seeing a wide open lane right next to PreCheck.

He then said something to the effect of, “Hah, yeah… You’ll actually have to take off your shoes and belt and remove your laptop and toiletries from your bag if you come through this line.”  I promptly turned around, retraced my steps, and entered the lengthy TSA PreCheck lane.

Even if you have TSA PreCheck, you’ll only receive those benefits when you go through the proper TSA PreCheck lane.  I didn’t know that, as I’d never attempted to claim my PreCheck benefits through the regular security lane.

Because of this, I’m willing to queue up to keep from disrobing at the security checkpoint.  Even if the TSA PreCheck line is longer, you’re still likely to save time because it’s so much faster to process PreCheck passengers.  Plus, you won’t be discharged at the end of the line in nothing but your skivvies.  Putting yourself back together takes time, too!

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Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals.

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! :)

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1 year ago

I thought I’d comment about “hybrid” lines; I’m talking about ones that are found typically at small airports and either there is no TSA Precheck lane or it is closed at the time. Some airports only have one or two gates anyway. When boarding, since everyone is going through the same line, it can still take time. The gate agent usually marks your boarding pass with some sort of indicator that tells the security that you don’t need to remove shoes or liquids. I have had to remove my laptop on occasion, though. In a particular airport I’ve frequented, I’ve had to have bags searched or dusted because the scanning equipment doesn’t seem as strong. Ultimately that doesn’t matter to me, because if it’s a small airport, you don’t need to arrive as early and it’s much more relaxed. I appreciate keeping on shoes whenever I can!

1 year ago

I discovered that on the Big Island, TSA pre-check and non-TSA line doesn’t matter when I went. My relative who lives there and travels frequently, says that the TSA precheck isn’t any faster.

1 year ago

For someone who supposedly travels a lot, how would you not know the difference in lanes? The Precheck lane may be longer at time but it should go faster since you don’t have to remove all that stuff.

1 year ago

Wow, you removed those negative comments in less than an hour. Such grace handling constructive criticism.

1 year ago

I prefer the Precheck lines and benefits but would MUCH rather put up or comply with ANY inconvenience if it helps prevent another 9/11.
I’m ALL IN for TSA.

Reply to  RSNFAN
1 year ago

You are exactly the kind of mindless sheep they enjoy. Meanwhile, the rest of us have rights.

1 year ago

In airports that have Precheck lanes that close before all flights have departed – I have received quasi-recheck privileges. This means the following:

1. I was allowed to leave my shoes and belt on once it was my turn, but I did have to take my laptop out of my luggage.

I was informed by the “ticket checker” of this quasi-benefit, and the TSA person vocally stated “I have a Precheck person.”

Andrew W
Reply to  James
1 year ago

Yep, I’ve seen and heard this myself too!

I was departing out of LAX last month before the PreCheck lanes had opened, but one of the TSA staff people told me I could keep my shoes, belts, etc. on just like PreCheck.

1 year ago

The PreChecknline was 10Xs as long and when you were able to walk right up to the regular security you decided it was FASTER to go wait in a longer line just so you wouldn’t have to take off your shoes, and pull out a baggie, and a computer?

Yes putting your shoes on does take time, it takes a few seconds. A MINUTE at most. I bet you waited longer than a minute in that long PreCheck line!!