Almost Half of TSA Pre-Check Travelers Think Lines Are Too Long

TSA Pre-Check is a program launched by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) back in 2011 to enhance the pre-boarding security screening process. It offers expedited screening by providing you with a shorter line and fewer restrictions when making your way through security. But it doesn’t look like everyone’s satisfied with the current Pre-Check status quo. The LA Times reports that a recent survey conducted by OAG shows that many TSA Pre-Check customers aren’t too happy with what they signed up for.

It reports:

But a survey of nearly 2,500 North American travelers found that 45% of fliers who enrolled in TSA PreCheck still think the lines are too long and the $85 cost for a five-year membership may not be worth it.

The survey taken by OAG, a company that compiles and provides data to airlines, airports and others, found that the percentage of travelers who feel the TSA PreCheck lines are too long was even higher amongbusiness travelers, at 57%.


TSA has highlighted its own positive stats on its website where it claims that in February 2017, 97% of TSA Pre-Check passengers waited less than 5 minutes and that Pre-Check has  over 4 million members currently with a presence at 180+ airports and 30 airlines. 

It’s a little surprising that so many Pre-Check customers would be dissatisfied with waiting 5 minutes or less, but I think many Pre-Check travelers feel like anything short of a breeze through security with no line is a loss.

This is especially true when it feels like the standard screening line (with an average waiting time of 10 minutes) is moving more quickly. Sometimes waiting in a 5 minute virtual stand-still line is more frustrating than waiting in a 7 to 10 minute line that is steadily moving. I attribute those type of scenarios to understaffing or lack of training and that’s probably what’s got a lot of Pre-Check people unhappy.

That, and another complaint with TSA Pre-Check is that many terminals aren’t outfitted with TSA Pre-Check. I’ve been to terminals in MIA and LGA that operate the “dumbed down” version of Pre-Check where you don’t have to take your shoes off but still have to remove your laptops, liquids, and often are subjected to other restrictions. The biggest downside is that you still have to wait in the standard screening line.

I think that TSA should advertise TSA’s presence with an asterisk for certain airports that don’t operate a TSA Pre-Check line at all terminals, so you at least have some level of notice that you might not receive Pre-Check benefits. Sometimes you may want to consider going through security twice in order to experience a lounge but if you won’t be able to go through Pre-Check each time, you may not feel like it’s worth it.

On the other hand, it has been exciting to see Pre-Check expand to so many different airlines. Some of the major airlines that they currently serve are:

  • Aeromexico
  • Air Canada
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Avianca
  • Cape Air
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue Airlines
  • Seaborne Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • Virgin Atlantic

Overall, I’ve been mostly happy with TSA Pre-Check, but I’ve had a bad experience here and there. Hopefully, TSA will continue to increase its staffing so that both lines, standard security and TSA Pre-Check will continue to become more effecient and we’ll see more airlines and airport (terminals) participating in the program. If you want to know more about TSA Pre-Check read my guide here.

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