You guys, I can’t honestly believe that I have lived the majority of my adult life without TSA PreCheck. Time and time again I ended up in the airport security line envying all of the travelers by passing the long, non PreCheck lines. They’d breeze their way through the checkpoints, shoes and liquids intact. I’d like to refer to my life before TSA PreCheck as the “dark ages” of my life. Now that I have it, I can’t imagine why I didn’t have it before. And so begins the tale of how TSA PreCheck led me to In and Out Burger.
My First PreCheck Experience
Many of you may recall my last journey to Portland. I actually got approved for PreCheck back in February but my trip to Portland in May was the first time I used it. When I arrived at CLT, I knew security was going to be faster. I just didn’t know it was going to be so much faster. In almost five minutes, I had passed through the initial line, went through secuity with my SHOES on my feet and LIQUIDS in my bag and was at my gate. I felt like it was the first day of my life! My eyes had been opened!
The real magic, I came to find out, of TSA PreCheck came on my flight back from Portland.
TSA PreCheck and In and Out Burger
Now we are getting to the best part of the story. When I flew from Charlotte to Portland, I flew direct but I didn’t get so lucky on the way back. I also had a two hour layover. Two hours?! Just enough time to sit at the airport and not enough time to do anything… Until I remembered I had TSA PreCheck and could easily make it through security without having to worry about time spent in line coming back into the airpot.
If you’re from South Carolina like me, In and Out Burger is sort of the unicorn of burger joints. We see pretty awesome looking photos of burgers and animal style fries accompanied by white cups with little red palm trees. But we never get to experience it because it hasn’t made it’s way to the East Coast (please, In and Out?). So naturally, when I landed in Phoenix the first thing I did was Google Map where the closest In and Out Burger was.
4 miles! That was it. I was the closest I might ever be to an In and Out Burger. So, I weighed my options. Sit in the airport for two hours before I could board my flight back to Charlotte OR catch an Uber to In and Out Burger and live in bliss. Naturally, I scooted out of that airport and into the first Uber I could find. “To In and Out Burger!!” I said to my Uber driver and off we went.
The menu for In and Out Burger isn’t extensive but it’s unfamiliar to me so I walked up to the counter and said “What’s the most popular?” The friendly teenager on the other side of the counter responded with a double double, animal style. So I trusted his reccomendation and patiently awaited my food.
After partaking in West Coast burger bliss, I caught an Uber back to the airport and hopped straight into the TSA PreCheck line. Again, I was so amazed that I, leather jacket and all, waltzed right through the scanner and was even at my gate 20 minutes before boarding began! Without PreCheck, I would have been way too anxious about time to leave and come back to the airport in under two hours. Not only did I get my fix of In and Out Burger, but I didn’t even have to kill time sitting in airport waiting areas. Is this a dream? No, Jacqui, it’s real life.
How You Can Get PreCheck (and hopefully In and Out Burger)
I’ll admit, one of the only reasons I started looking into TSA PreCheck is because my travel credit card reimbursed you for the fees. When applying, you can go one of two ways. You can apply for just TSA PreCheck for $85 or you can apply for Global Entry (which includes TSA PreCheck) for $100 and speeds up your time in customs when you return to the US from international trips. In my book it was a no brainer. For $15 more, I could get both!
The process was super easy but it did take a while to complete, specifically for Global Entry. If you’re interested in applying for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, look at the steps below.
Global Entry (includes TSA PreCheck)
- Check out this website and follow the steps. You’ll make an account, pay the fee and fill out the application.
- If accepted, your application will be provisionally approved. You then set up an interview with the TSA to finish the process at an enrollment airport. The closest airport to me that did this was Charlotte. The spots were filled up a few months out. I applied in November/December and had my interview in February.
- The interview itself was a piece of cake. The agent typically asks you similar things from your original application. They make sure you’re not a criminal and ask if you are planning to travel mostly for business or pleasure. They then take your fingerprints!
- I walked out and was emailed my known travelers number almost immediately, which is what you enter when booking flights to make sure TSA PreCheck shows up on your boarding pass. That’s it!
TSA PreCheck (only)
- Similar to Global Entry, you will check out this website and follow the steps. You’ll make an account, pay the fee and fill out the application.
- If accepted, your application will be provisionally approved. You then set up an interview with the TSA to finish the process at an enrollment airport. There are more enrollment centers specific to TSA PreCheck than with Global Entry so it’s likely there’s an enrollment center close to you and shorter wait times for appointments.
- You’ll also have a quick interview with the TSA. If approved, you’ll receive your known travelers number and can start booking flights!!
Did I mention that both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck last for five years? So even if you only fly a few times a year, you’ll be able to utilize it for five years in a row before having to re-apply! It’s 100% worth it to me. TSA PreCheck takes the anxiety out of going through security for me and it even let me enjoy a tasty burger on my layover.