I finally got TSA PreCheck and it was so easy I can’t believe everyone doesn’t have it

Anneta with TSA pre-check sign
I recently signed up for TSA PreCheck and couldn’t believe how easy it was. Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
  • I recently signed up for TSA PreCheck after years of procrastinating.
  • The online application only took five minutes, and the in-person interview took less than 10.
  • I found out I was eligible a day later and TSA PreCheck has already made traveling way easier.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

I finally decided to get TSA PreCheck after many years of procrastinating.
Anneta at Sydney Airport
The author has only missed one flight but dashed through many airports in her life. Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
I believe there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who go to the airport three hours early, and those who have to sprint to catch their flight.

Unfortunately for me, I’m usually part of the latter group — it’s just in my DNA. And while I’ve only missed one flight in my life, I’ve embarrassed myself countless times while running through airports or begging to cut security lines.

But now that I write about travel for a living, I knew I had to make a change. It was finally time to sign up for TSA PreCheck.

And when I actually finished the application process, I couldn’t believe how quick and simple it was — and how much it immediately improved my travel experiences. 

For those who don’t know, TSA PreCheck helps travelers breeze through airport security.
Passengers pass through TSA at New York's JFK airport
Passengers pass through TSA at New York’s JFK airport. Taylor Rains/Insider
The US Transportation and Security Administration offers TSA PreCheck for travelers who want to get through security faster — and with less hassle. 

Those with TSA PreCheck get to wait in a separate security line. In fact, according to the TSA website, 96% of passengers with TSA PreCheck waited less than five minutes in security as of August 21. 

Unlike the regular TSA security line, you also don’t have to remove your shoes, jackets, or belts if you have TSA PreCheck, and you can keep your electronics in your bag. And if you have children under 12, they can automatically join you in the expedited lane. 

Signing up was surprisingly simple. To enroll for TSA PreCheck, I first had to complete an online application on the official TSA website.
TSA pre-check application
The first part of the TSA PreCheck online application. Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
The first part of the application asked for basic information including my name, residential address, and where I was born. 
I also had to provide information about my appearance.
TSA pre-check application
You also need to include your height and weight in the application. Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
As with my driver’s license, I had to include my height and weight, as well as my eye and hair color.
Then I had to answer a couple of eligibility questions.
TSA pre-check application
The application also asks about any criminal history. Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
There are certain criminal offenses that permanently or temporarily disqualify a TSA PreCheck applicant. 

Criminal offenses that fall under permanent disqualification include espionage, treason, sedition, or murder. Criminal offenses that fall under interim disqualification include extortion, robbery, kidnapping, or unlawful possession of a firearm. 

You can find the full list here.

I also had to choose which documents I planned to bring to my appointment.
TSA pre-check application
You can choose from a couple of documents to bring to your appointment. Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
Since I selected my driver’s license as my photo ID, I was told that I also had to bring a citizenship or immigration document. 

I selected my current passport, but other eligible options include a birth certificate (bearing an official seal or certified copy), an enhanced driver’s license, or a passport that had expired within 12 months.

Once that was done, I just had to book my appointment.
TSA pre-check application
I was surprised by how quickly I was able to get an in-person appointment. Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
I was surprised that I was able to find an available appointment in just two weeks’ time. I also figured I’d have to go to the airport or DMV for my appointment, but I was informed that my closest location was actually a Staples store. 

I received an email confirming my appointment, plus a reminder that I’d need to bring my driver’s license and passport. It also recommended that I arrive 10 minutes early to sign in, and noted that I needed to provide 24 hours’ notice if I wanted to cancel or reschedule.  

Overall, the online application took just five minutes to finish.

Two weeks later, I headed to Staples on my lunch break.
Staples Center
The Staples where my TSA PreCheck interview was held. Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
I had no idea how long I’d have to wait or what the appointment would entail. I expected there would be an interview and wondered what questions I’d be asked. 

I was also nervous because I’d forgotten to pack my passport while visiting my parents, which is where I had scheduled my appointment. Thankfully I was able to find my birth certificate but wasn’t sure if it would work since I had written that I would have my passport on my application. 

After wandering past the printers and shredders, I stumbled on a TSA PreCheck sign.
TSA pre-check appointment sign
A sign advertised TSA PreCheck by the interview area. Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
Nestled by the office chairs was a bright-blue sign that exclaimed “Keep those shoes on. You busy traveler, you.” 

The sign also noted that it costs $US85 ($AU117) to sign up for TSA PreCheck, which is good for five years. 

I turned a corner and saw that the appointments were held in a shed built within the store. When it was my turn, I went inside – and the entire process took five minutes.
TSA pre-check appointment area
My interview was held in this shed within the store. Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
As I walked in, my interviewer was wiping down the fingerprint machine with an antibacterial wipe. Then he went back behind his desk and asked me to confirm my email and the residential address I had provided on my online application. 

I then handed over my driver’s license and birth certificate so that he could make copies. My interviewer clarified that I wouldn’t have been able to apply with just my driver’s license that day and needed the birth certificate as well. But if I had just brought my physical passport, I wouldn’t have needed either my driver’s license or birth certificate (a copy of the passport wouldn’t have worked). So there’s plenty of options when it comes to the enrollment documents. 

After we did my fingerprints, I just had to take a photo and pay my fee.
Anneta with TSA pre-check sign
This was not the official photo I took for my PreCheck. Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
The longest part of the process was just figuring out how to correctly press my fingers onto the machine. Once that was done and my photo got snapped, I gave the interviewer my credit card to pay for the $US85 ($AU117) fee. 

The interviewer then told me I’d get my TSA PreCheck number in 7 to 10 days and that it would be good for the next five years. 

And just like that, I was done! I couldn’t believe how easy and seamless the entire process was. 

Just a day later, I was notified by the TSA that I was eligible for PreCheck.
TSA pre-check email
I learned I was eligible for TSA PreCheck within 24 hours of my interview. Anneta Konstantinides/Insider
I received an email from the TSA with a link to find my “Known Traveler Number” (KTN), which I could then include in all my future flight reservations so that my PreCheck status would show up on my boarding passes. 
I’ve already used my TSA PreCheck since, and it’s made traveling an absolute breeze.
Tsa precheck
TSA PreCheck is definitely worth the money. Joe Raedle/Getty
On a recent trip, I went straight to the TSA PreCheck line for the first time and was delighted to find that there wasn’t a single other person there. 

After walking past 20 travelers in the regular TSA line, I just plopped my backpack on the conveyor belt and sailed through security. It couldn’t have been easier. 

I’ll probably never be one of those people who get to the airport hours before their flight. But now that I have TSA PreCheck, I still have some time to spare — and can finally treat myself to an overpriced airport mimosa.