Have you heard of TSA PreCheck? This is a program that the Transportation Security Administration offers for a fee to allow expedited security clearance at airports around the country. Any U.S. citizen can apply for it and pay $85 for a 5-year program membership.
When applying for the TSA PreCheck program, applicants pay the $85 fee, fill out an application online and then have to travel to an enrollment center for an interview, background check and finger printing. It takes a lot of time to do all that, especially if you don’t live near one of their enrollment centers. TSA PreCheck can be worth the hassle if you fly often and want to avoid standing in long security lines.
All active duty service members are granted TSA PreCheck and don’t have to go through that process. In fact, all they need to do is enter their DoD ID number in the known traveler number (KTN) field and their boarding pass will have the TSA Pre✓® mark on it.
Retirees do not have this same benefit though.
Why are active duty service members granted TSA PreCheck but retirees are not?
Their fingerprints are already on file and background checks have been made for many. If a service member flies using their DoD ID number in March for example and then retires a month later, they lose their TSA PreCheck membership but nothing has happened to make the person less credible. Shouldn’t they be grandfathered in?
Does TSA consider a service member trustworthy while on active duty but not once they retire?
What could have changed that makes TSA no longer offer them the same free membership?
Of course TSA PreCheck is a privilege, not a right, but it’s hard to understand why TSA chooses to take away the benefit when the member retires.
Money is a reason that comes to mind. That $85 membership fee is only supposed to cover background checks and administrative costs though. The background checks are contracted out however. There are no discounts available for retirees or for anyone at all.
If TSA isn’t willing to give military retirees free membership, shouldn’t they consider providing a discount?
I’m not the first person to question this.
In 2016 Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey urged TSA to lower the membership fee for all veterans if they weren’t willing to exempt them from it. TSA started the PreCheck program in October 2011. All of this time has gone by and still there is no answer.
Some veterans groups are asking TSA to “do the right thing.” These groups include: Wounded Warriors Family Support, the American Legion, Marine Corps League, Non Commissioned Officers Association, Retired Military Officers Association and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Hopefully together they will be able to influence TSA into providing some sort of exemption for retirees.
It seems like a lot of fuss over something small, but if you travel a lot being able to go past the long security lines can be extremely helpful. There are over 5 million members in this program and that says something about its usefulness.
It works too. In February 2018 93% of members said that they waited less than 5 minutes to get through security at the airport. That’s a lot of time and frustration saved.