Things That Will Get You Disqualified Or Suspended From TSA PreCheck

For frequent travelers in the United States, TSA PreCheck is a huge perk that makes traveling by airplane easier, faster, and more convenient. TSA, or the Transportation Security Administration, was created in 2001 in response to the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks. Its purpose is to protect America's transportation systems allowing for free movement. TSA is crucial to keeping travelers safe, but it can also be one of the most frustrating parts of traveling by airplane.

As you pass through the standard TSA security screenings, you'll often be required to remove your shoes, take out your liquids, and pull your electronics out of your bag. While your bags are being separately scanned, you pass through security body scanners that use metal detectors and advanced imaging technology. If anything goes off, you may even receive a physical pat down. Throughout all of those steps, there are tons of things that can happen to slow the process down, such as confused travelers or further security checks for suspicious-looking items. TSA checkpoints are getting more efficient with new technology like facial recognition, but it can still take a long time. During peak travel times, travelers can often wait in the standard TSA line for around an hour. On the contrary, TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening program that is one of the best ways to get through airport security faster. TSA PreCheck is available to most travelers, but there are certain factors that can disqualify you from being accepted into the program.

Who is eligible for TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is available at more than 200 airports around the United States. You'll pass through security much faster, where you can keep your shoes and belts on, leave liquids and electronics in your bag, and often get a dedicated PreCheck line. According to the TSA website, 99% of PreCheck passengers wait less than 10 minutes. It's also great for families. Children aged 12 and under can always accompany their parents through the PreCheck lane. Kids aged 13-17 will often receive the PreCheck benefits indicated on their boarding pass when their flight is on the same reservation as an approved adult. 

In order to be eligible, you have to complete the application process and be approved. It's available for United States citizens and permanent residents. It is also available to Canadian citizens who are members of the NEXUS trusted traveler program. Members of the United States military, including the National Guard, are eligible, and it's free for military personnel who are currently active.

Some passengers might also randomly receive TSA PreCheck for a specific flight when they are selected via the Secure Flight system. The Secure Flight program begins security screenings before you even arrive at the airport using passenger data provided by air carriers. It is used to identify high-risk and low-risk travelers by comparing data to information on various watch lists like the No Fly List and the Terrorist Screening Database.

Offenses that will permanently disqualify you from TSA PreCheck

If you've never been accused of a crime, you're probably eligible for TSA PreCheck, but there are a long list of offenses that can disqualify passengers from applying to the program. When you apply, you'll undergo rigorous background checks to ensure that you are a safe candidate for expedited TSA screenings and that you're not a security risk. You may not be eligible if you've ever been convicted of a crime in another country, or if you've violated certain airline regulations. If you've ever committed an assault, threatened, or interfered with flight crew on board an aircraft, you'll likely be disqualified. If a government authority, such as a court, has decided that you are at risk of harming yourself or someone else due to mental illness, or if you've been found not guilty of a qualifying crime due to insanity, you won't be approved.

Other factors that will lead to a permanent ban from TSA PreCheck include espionage, sedition, treason, terrorism, improper transportation of hazardous materials, unlawful behavior involving explosives, racketeering or corrupt business dealings, or participation in a transportation security incident that resulted in "loss of life, environmental damage, transportation system disruption, or economic disruption" (per the TSA website). Attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the crimes will also permanently disqualify you from the TSA PreCheck program.

Offenses that will disqualify you temporarily

Some offenses and infractions will result in a temporary disqualification from TSA PreCheck. Passengers who conspire, attempt to commit, or have been convicted of certain felonies will fall under this category — even if you're found not competent to stand trial or not guilty due to insanity. In these situations, you'll either be disqualified for seven years following the conviction or for five years following your release from prison.

Illegal activities involving guns fall under this category, including but not limited to unlawful possession, use, sale, transportation, import, and export of firearms. Extortion, fraud, and bribery will also disqualify you. Smuggling is a big no, as are certain drug-related offenses such as importation, distribution, or possession with the intent to distribute. Violent crimes like arson, kidnapping, sexual assault, voluntary manslaughter, robbery, and assault with the intent to kill are all crimes that will disqualify you, as well. Certain non-violent crimes, like immigrant violations or illegal entry into a seaport, are also included under this section. You will also be found ineligible if you are wanted or under warrant for any of the above felonies until the warrant is dismissed.

How to apply for TSA PreCheck

If you've never committed any of the offenses that would disqualify you from applying for TSA PreCheck, it can be an amazing asset that will help make your travel experience faster and hassle-free. The application process is relatively easy and requires three steps. First, you will begin your application by pre-enrolling online at the TSA website. Then, you will make an appointment online or simply walk into an enrollment center for an in-person screening. There are hundreds of locations around the country to choose from. You will need to provide certain documentation verifying your citizenship status, like a valid U.S passport, and take fingerprints. There is a non-refundable $85 fee for the necessary background checks. Make sure you review the necessary requirements you need to know before applying for TSA PreCheck.

It typically takes three to five days to get approved for TSA PreCheck. Once processed, you will receive an e-mail or a phone call with information on how to access your Known Traveler Number (KTN) online. Then, you can use your KTN whenever you book a travel reservation. When you arrive at the airport and receive your boarding pass, it will have a TSA PreCheck indicator printed on it, showing security that you can proceed through the PreCheck screening line.

Benefits of TSA PreCheck and alternative options

In addition to the shorter lines, you won't have to take off your shoes to pass through the metal detectors. You can keep on your light jacket and belt as well. Instead of removing laptops and electronics from your bag and placing them in a separate bin, you can keep them packed away. Liquids still need to follow the 3-1-1 rule, but they can remain in your bag through security.

Other options for expedited security screenings include Global Entry, which is great for international travelers and includes TSA PreCheck benefits. NEXUS is a good choice for people who often travel between the United States and Canada. CLEAR is a private company that allows you to verify your identity by scanning your eyes or fingerprints at many major airports. Note that CLEAR only allows you to skip the TSA document check line — it does not include TSA PreCheck for security screening, so you'll still need to follow all of the standard security steps, like removing your shoes, liquids, and electronics. To get both benefits, apply to CLEAR and TSA PreCheck. Luckily, there's a new TSA PreCheck partnership with CLEAR that makes navigating airport security even easier.