Home Travel So That’s Why TSA PreCheck Lines Are Getting Longer!

So That’s Why TSA PreCheck Lines Are Getting Longer!

by SharonKurheg

Joe and I have had TSA PreCheck since mid-2014ish. Well, we actually got Global Entry then and, of course, TSA PreCheck was included, just as it is now.

Anyway, for years after we got it, we’d go to our home airport of MCO and the only people on the TSA PreCheck line were us. Or maybe there’d be a small handful of people in front of us. Not many; just 2 or 3.

Times have changed and now there’s usually a queue of upwards of 10 people waiting to get their ID/boarding pass checked by the TSA officers, and then another 5 to 10 waiting to put their stuff through X-ray.

I just found out why.

Here’s the headline from a recent TSA press release:

TSA PreCheck™ reaches milestone with 10 million members

Well yeah, that’ll do it.

TSA PreCheck’s first enrollment center opened in December 2013 (there are now 400 enrollment centers across the country, including special ones like these) and it’s just been growing and growing ever since. Here’s how many people have enrolled over time:

  • 1 million: March, 2015
  • 2 million: January 2016
  • 5 million: July 2017
  • 8 million: March, 2019
  • 10 million: March, 2020

So it took them just over a year to get their first million, and almost exactly a year to get their latest 2 million people signed up. Actually, according to the press release, there was an 18% increase in new memberships between March 2019 and February 2020, in comparison to the same time period the previous year.

Right now, people who use TSA PreCheck account for about 20% of TSA screenings. And you know there will be no slowing it down – especially this upcoming year, with the Real ID meltdown that’s going to hit in October.

To be honest, we’ve yet to have a wait for TSA Pre-Check that’s been really bad. That’s especially when you compare it to the wait for the regular, non-PreCheck queue, which can easily be 20, 30, or even 45 to 60 minutes during busy times. But while we still have CLEAR, we’ll keep using it, just to save us those couple of minutes.

Except CLEAR already has 5 million people enrolled, as per Bloomberg. And with all the ways you can get CLEAR for free or at a discount, that number is sure to keep rising, too.

I guess the good times couldn’t last forever, huh?

*** Feature image (cropped): David Prasad/flickr

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Dom March 8, 2020 - 3:33 pm

There were more than 50 people spread across 4 PreCheck lines last Sunday afternoon at MCO, and that was just to get to ID check. The lines moved slowly because agents from the regular line were escorting selected passengers to the end of the screening lines, backing up the ID check line.

The regular lines looked like the fall of Saigon.

Anthony Lewis March 9, 2020 - 8:43 am

The thing that really keeps Clear from taking off, is the price. However, with the ban on NYers enrolling in Trusted Traveler programs, Clear is definitely going to get second looks. My Precheck is expiring in November. I will be enrolling in Clear. For sure.

ELAINE RITCHIE March 9, 2020 - 1:53 pm

Clear has seen a boost due to the free trial. I think it will plateau due to the ongoing cost.

warren trout March 9, 2020 - 12:42 pm

Still have precheck people not getting ready till they are number 1. Then they start taking their phones out, etc

Andre V Garcia March 9, 2020 - 3:32 pm

The worst is when they randomly give out to people who are not signed up, not only is unfair to those who paid for the program but they also have no clue what to do when they reach the front of the line, slowing down the whole line

SharonKurheg March 9, 2020 - 3:45 pm

That potentially could have been fixed – it was a bill but the Senate let it die

Erik L March 9, 2020 - 4:30 pm

Or you get airports (like I experienced at MSP the other week) that don’t open their precheck lines when the regular lines open. 10 million of us and I paid for PC. Yet I still have to pull all my things out because they can’t properly staff.

lenin1991 March 9, 2020 - 9:47 pm

It isn’t clear from the linked article whether the 5 million people enrolled in Clear counts only paying members eligible to use it at airports, or if it also includes people like me who did a trial but then lapsed into the free program that only allows use at stadiums & Hertz.

SharonKurheg March 9, 2020 - 9:52 pm

To be honest, my very first response when I was originally writing the post – was CLEAR including every single person in that 5 mil, including those who got the free trial and then stopped? Or are there really 5 mil? Frankly, I suspect it’s the former.

Scs1 March 10, 2020 - 1:21 am

Clear me + global entry (prechek) is the way to go. If you have clearme at the airports you frequent. Ironically this morning the regular queue was shorter than tsa prechek.

ROSE March 10, 2020 - 8:15 am

Pre-check is not given all the time. According to the TSA, they don’t want the public to be too comfortable. There are times you will be randomly checked even if you have a global entry or paid for Pre-checked.

WC March 10, 2020 - 10:19 am

MCO is just a horrible horrible airport with clueless pax who only fly once in a lifetime to get to the themeparks.

> To be honest, we’ve yet to have
> a wait for TSA Pre-Check that’s
> been really bad

Check out DEN at 6 AM. It’s often an hour and the line backs up almost to baggage claim. The regular lines are shorter but I do it because I often have to travel with 3 laptops and dont want to get them all out.

SharonKurheg March 10, 2020 - 10:37 am Reply
Karen March 10, 2020 - 11:52 am

My son and I were under clear because we travel to Denver Phoenix Tucson for doctors appointments. When we always buy her ticket and pre-arrange for the ball can do to I have a service dog for medical alert and other disabilities you cannot see get to the counter get our tickets and we have to go through the TSA line every time and I say we have clear it doesn’t matter so I stop paying for clear and even when I was with my 12-year-old daughter the same thing happened she was free and they tell me it doesn’t matter you’re going to the TSA check line how can they do that?


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