It may have seemed as though Christmas came early if your plane ticket for your Thanksgiving flight home had the magic phrase on it: “TSA PreCheck.”
The Transportation Security Administration usually only issues PreCheck to preapproved passengers who pay an $85 fee for fingerprinting and background checks. However, some passengers who don’t have PreCheck may occasionally still receive the clearance, which allows them to pass through a shorter, faster checkpoint line where they don’t need to take off their shoes, belts and jackets or remove laptops and liquids from their carry-ons.
“On any given date on any particular flight, some passengers will be identified for PreCheck,” said TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz.
Here’s how it works: Before anyone can print a boarding pass for a flight in the U.S., their name and information are put through the TSA’s Security Flight screening program.
Then, based on the results from that program, combined with the flight that person is taking and what day and time they’re flying, “they will be granted that privilege” of PreCheck, Koshetz said.
Though it may seem like a smart bet to wait until you get your boarding pass to see if you’ve been approved to get TSA PreCheck, there’s no guarantee on when it will happen. The only way to do that, Koshetz said, is to pay for PreCheck.
PBIA is among the top airports for PreCheck, with more than 50 percent of passengers ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday using the program to shorten their checkpoint time.