I had a frankly incredible experience signing up for TSA Precheck.
I’ve been avoiding TSA Precheck for a few years, partly because I hadn’t been flying enough to warrant the $85/five year fee, and partly because I still think of the idea of separating out some travelers from others as un-American in some way.
In any event, on the way to Phoenix last week I had a layover in Chicago. It was just long enough to step out of the secure terminal and visit the TSA Precheck office when it opened at 8:30am. I didn’t have an appointment, but there was no line and since I had my passport I was able to complete my application within five minutes. What I didn’t like was that the program requires being fingerprinted. Does the federal government really need my fingerprints in its database to ensure I’m not a threat? I really doubt it, and having my fingerprints scanned was the worst part of the experience. It didn’t feel right.
The reason I consider this an “incredible experience” was because I applied in Chicago on Wednesday morning, and by Saturday had receiving email confirmation of my approval as well as a physical approval notice from the Department of Homeland Security in the mail.
I think the TSA Precheck program is essentially outsourced to MorphoTrust, a private corporation that handles almost every state’s driver’s license program and many other identity programs in this country. In that light I’m not surprised at the speed of the beginning-to-end process. It was still great nonetheless.