Home Travel What Can Be Done If You Have TSA PreCheck & Your Partner Doesn’t?

What Can Be Done If You Have TSA PreCheck & Your Partner Doesn’t?

by SharonKurheg

Think about this scenario: a married couple arrives at the airport. One of them has TSA Precheck, the other does not. If they’re lucky, the one who hasn’t paid for Pre-Check gets the status for this flight anyway because of their partner’s status (it happens all the time. There was a bill to stop the practice back in 2018 – the House passed it in 2018 but the Senate let it die in 2019). But that’s not always the case. And then what do you do?

In a situation like this, there are really only 2 choices:

  • They their separate ways, with a parting, “see you on the other side”
  • Stay together and both go on the regular line

The reasoning behind whatever decision they make is as varied as the personalities of each couple. But it’s an interesting topic. Interesting enough for a writer at Slate to interview several couples with such “mixed-Precheck-status relationships” to see, not only what they do, but why.

Click here to read the piece.

It’s admittedly a small decision but there’s so much that goes into it. From Slate: “…a test of loyalty, a spotlight on income or lifestyle differences, or a reminder that, in a relationship, one party’s personal choices almost always affect the other. A long-awaited getaway can easily turn fraught when it begins with this minor dilemma: Should a Precheck member take their rightful place among the elite in the shorter security line, even if it means leaving their spouse behind?”

When Joe and I originally got our Global Entry status 7+ years ago, which included TSA Precheck, we did it at the same time. And we’ve renewed at the same time. So we’ve always both had the status. But in talking about it, if Joe had PreCheck and I didn’t, he says he would go with me. If I had it and he didn’t, I’d meet him on the other side. BUT…he’s more of a gentleman than I am 😉 and I am independent to a fault (it’s a “very short person” thing). Plus he hates to wait and I love to people watch, so whichever of us got to “the other side” first would be miserable or in her glory, depending on who it was.

Joe also said that if he had a bunch of crap in his bag that would be a pain to unpack, then he’s going through PreCheck without me.

So as you can see, it’s really a situation of Your Mileage May Vary. You do whatever works best for you. Well, and your partner, too. Or maybe OR your partner. Again, YMMV 😉

If you don’t mind sharing, what would YOU do?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Bandmeeting January 30, 2020 - 8:00 pm

I would tell the person I’m traveling with that I’ll see them in the lounge and I’ll be one drink ahead of them. Wait, they don’t have lounge access?

derek January 30, 2020 - 10:17 pm

Better to go separately on the basis that the PreCheck passenger won’t have to dirty their socks or feet when they take their shoes off. Also less exposure to radio frequency scanning.

Big Promise January 30, 2020 - 10:39 pm

95% of the time my wife receives Precheck when she’s on the same reservation as me, so this really isn’t much of an issue. What’s slightly more interesting is when I get SSSS on domestic travel and she doesn’t. For whatever reason TSA lets me give her my carry-on to take through the normal lane. Once they even encouraged me to give her my camera bag before they started the whole secondary screening procedure…

DaninMCI January 31, 2020 - 7:26 am

If you have Precheck just tell them to meet you on the other side. The person without Precheck shouldn’t even want you to endure the regular process if they love/like you. I take small groups on travel tours and most usually they don’t have Precheck but my wife and I do. We always just tell them that “we have to” go through Precheck and we’ll see you soon. Then we wait for them airside to come through and greet them again. Never been an issue. Heck sometimes they even beat us through (likely because of people getting Precheck that aren’t really Precheck. This sounds elitist but if you don’t know how the Precheck line works it slows it all down. It reminds me of being behind someone that shows up in either line and “then” starts to take off their belt, change out of their pocket and then forgets they have a cell phone in their pocket and spurs on their boots or whatever. Do all that BEFORE you go through the line, either line. It’s like getting behind someone at the grocery store that waits until all the items are rung up and then starts digging for their checkbook only to find out they don’t own a pen. (rant over).

Slate isn’t really much of a source to refer to for any sort of advice. It would be like taking relationship or even travel advice from Yahoo or USA Today.

GUWonder August 1, 2021 - 3:11 am

When I’ve seen this happen, I often suggest an approach that has often worked before for those with a “trusted traveler number”: ask the airline to uncheck the passengers and then reload the numbers into the KTN fields and redo check-in. Whether because of that suggestion or something else an airline check-in agent has done when given the Global Entry cards, PreCheck then comes up for both adults where it hadn’t before on a boarding for one of the two adults on the very same flights where hit by a Precheck-for-1-of-2.

Steve August 1, 2021 - 9:07 am

I carry the chargers, and all the electronic. On some airlines they give to the other AA doesn’t.

Bill August 1, 2021 - 8:27 pm

We have faced this. As frequent travelers we know it happens. So if it does, the one who gets tsa pre takes the bags.

Christian August 1, 2021 - 9:10 pm

I do what Joe does. While I won’t ditch my wife, I’m fine if she gets the easy path. She usually just sticks with me anyway though.

Alex M October 8, 2021 - 5:31 pm

If I had Global Entry / TSA Pre and my family didn’t, I’d just load myself up with all the family’s carry-on luggage I could take with me and bring it through the line, and wait for my family on the other side. Less inconvenience for them. I carry multiple laptops, so does my spouse, and my child has a laptop of his own plus an iPad. If all they need to do is remove their shoes without having to unpack their electronics, that’s a win.


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