TSA PreCheck Benefits for ServicemembersUpdated: November 3, 2022
TSA PreCheck allows for quicker security screening at more than 200 airports nationwide. If you’re a member of the U.S. Armed Forces then you’re in luck – you can bypass that line and make it to your gate a whole lot faster with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck – for free.
What is TSA PreCheck?
According to the TSA, 92% of passengers using TSA PreCheck waited less than five minutes to go through security in May 2018. Lines are typically shorter and move more quickly than standard security because travelers are not required to remove the following:
- 3-1-1 compliant bag (toiletries in a plastic bag)
- Light outerwear
- A laptop from a carry-on bag
TSA PreCheck is also available when departing from participating U.S. airports to a foreign country.
Who is Eligible?
Only U.S. citizens, nationals and lawful permanent residents are eligible to apply for TSA PreCheck benefits. Additionally, TSA PreCheck can only be used when traveling on an airline that has entered into a partnership with the TSA. This allows for the TSA to pre-approve certain frequent flyers of participating airlines.
A list of participating airports and airlines is available.
Through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Transportation Security Administration, eligibility for TSA PreCheck automatically extends to all members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including cadets and midshipmen at U.S. service academies, plus members of the Reserves and National Guard. DoD federal employees are also eligible for TSA PreCheck (for free), but they must opt-in via milConnect. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces are not required to opt in.
If you’re a member of any of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s trusted traveler programs, you are also automatically eligible for TSA PreCheck without an additional fee, including Global Entry; U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and Canadian citizens who are NEXUS members; and U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who belong to SENTRI.
I’m in the military – How do I use this benefit?
Your DoD identification number works as your “known traveler” (KTN) for personal and official travel. When you make travel arrangements, simply enter the 10-digit number on the back of your common access card (CAC) into the KTN field. If the number is not located on your CAC, you can get it on milConnect. The TSA also recommends updating your Defense Travel System profile with your KTN for official travel.
When you receive your boarding pass, a TSA PreCheck indicator will appear on the ticket if you put in your KTN when you booked your flight reservation. Keep in mind that you cannot head to the TSA PreCheck line with just your CAC card – you must enter the number at the time of booking. (Or, if you forget this step, I’ve learned from personal experience to just be sure to show your CAC card to the airline agent before he or she prints your boarding pass when checking in.) You do not have to be in uniform to participate and being in uniform does not automatically mean you can access the TSA PreCheck line – the indicator must be on your boarding pass.
Also, be aware TSA PreCheck does not automatically extend to military retirees. Find your DoD number through your milConnect account and enter it when booking travel to find out if you already have this benefit. Otherwise, you will need to go through the standard application process.
Can I bring my family through the TSA PreCheck line with me?
Yes and no. Children ages 12 and younger are eligible to use TSA PreCheck when traveling with a parent or guardian who has the indicator on their boarding pass. Travelers 13 years of age and older who do not have a TSA PreCheck boarding pass must go through the standard security line or apply for eligibility.
Family members over the age of 13 can apply through the standard TSA PreCheck application process, which carries an $85 non-refundable fee and is good for five years. Apply here.
Anything else I should know?
While TSA PreCheck is a great benefit for service members, keep in mind that expedited security screening isn’t a guarantee – the TSA reserves the right to use unpredictable security measures throughout the airport at any time. For more information and frequently asked questions, visit tsa.gov/precheck.