Let's face it: unless you're traveling on a private jet, flying can be a pain. The Transportation Security Administration always seems to be adding new and seemingly illogical security measures that appear to do little but make our lives more difficult. But don't think that the TSA has closed its ears to our concerns altogether.
Back in October 2011, the TSA launched Precheck, a program designed to make things easier for frequent fliers. The pilot program allowed certain travelers to skip most of the security procedures at airports across the country, and was until now limited principally to those enrolled in a domestic airline's frequent flier program or one of the U.S. Customs and Border Border Protection programs like Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI. However, now the administration is opening up the program to anyone who meets the criteria.
The process involves filling out an online application, interviewing at a TSA office and paying an $85 registration fee. After a two to three week vetting process — and assuming you haven't tried using fake papers or tried going through an airport with a gun or something like that — approved applicants are issued a Known Traveler Number. Give the airline that number when booking a flight and you can keep that bottle of water and your laptop in your bag, your shoes and belt on your person and skip the lines for security check at 40 participating airports worldwide.
The approval is good for five years and strikes us as well worth the time it would take to apply and the eighty-five bucks to save all that time and aggravation at the airport — especially if you fly in, out of, or around the U.S. frequently throughout the year. The application process opens to the public this fall.