I am in the Alaska Airlines TSA Pre program as a frequent flyer, and 4 months ago was curious how TSA Pre works. It was just automatic that I was signed up for Alaska. Didn't have to do anything. Which is kind of worrisome as how do you maintain the status?
The TSA Pre web site is here. Coverage is pretty good in major airports. The most glaring missing points are the SFO, and SJC airports.
TSA Pre✓™ is an expedited screening initiative that is expanding to airports across the country. Implementing a key component of the agency’s intelligence-driven, risk-based approach to security, TSA Pre✓™ enhances aviation security by placing more focus on pre-screening individuals who volunteer to participate to expedite the travel experience.
The problem is I don't know what my "Known Traveler Number" is to register as Alaska takes care of this on my reservation.
Certain frequent travelers from Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, US Airways and certain members of CBP's Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS who are U.S. citizens are eligible to participate. TSA plans to expand TSA Pre✓™ to include additional airlines, as well as airports that participate in a CBP Trusted Traveler program, once operationally ready. In addition, accompanying passengers 12 and younger are allowed through TSA Pre✓™ lanes with eligible passengers.
So, getting a Global Entry card seemed the easiest way to do this. I filled out all the paper work back in Apr/May 2012. In June I was conditionally approved with approval to schedule an interview. The first available interview was three months later in Seattle's Boeing field which is convenient for me being a 1/2 drive.
Why so long? I found out a contributing problem in the interview process yesterday when talking to Canada border personnel. When you fill the USA Global Online Enrollment System one of the questions is "will you travel to Canada?" or something like that. Anyone who travels frequently in the USA would with a high degree of certainty say yes. The problem is when you pick this option, the system puts in the process for the USA/Canada Nexus program. OK, go ahead and do this. Which makes total sense to me being in Seattle. But, if you live in let's say San Diego like the guy in line with me. This means the guy in San Diego had to schedule his approval interview from a short list of offices near the USA/Canada border. I don't think Canada is going to station border agents in San Diego. :-)
The gal from Canada Border said all day long she has had people who have been from far away to get their Nexus approval, but they really only need the Trusted Traveler program from Global Entry.
So, if you want to get in that TSA Pre line which is totally sweet, less than 5 minutes. I've at the most had 2 people in front of me. Keep your shoes on, laptop in the bag, don't take liquids out, keep your light weight jacket on. And, you want to be able to have TSA Pre work beyond your sponsor airline. Being approved as a Trusted Traveler makes sense and get your Known Traveler Number. But, watch out for picking the travel to Canada option if you don't live near one of the Nexus interview offices.