Ahead of what is expected to be an extremely busy Memorial Day travel weekend, and summer to follow, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is making a significant change to its policies that it hopes will help ease traffic at security checkpoints.
The TSA will now allow teenagers aged between 13 and 17, who aren’t yet enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program, to go through the PreCheck lane as long as their parents or guardians are enrolled and they are traveling on the same reservation. Children 12 and under are already allowed to do the same.
The PreCheck indicator still needs to appear on the teen’s boarding pass in order to use the lane, so parents and guardians should make sure that the teen is under the same airline reservation and their own PreCheck number is linked.
The TSA hopes this change will help alleviate some of the stress the travel system is expected to be under this summer. TSA is already seeing checkpoint travel numbers above 2019 levels, and it is forecasting 2.6 million passengers to travel through checkpoints on Friday, May 26 alone, which is expected to be the busiest day of the holiday weekend.
PreCheck, one of two of the TSA’s Known Traveler programs, allows travelers to go through security checkpoints without removing shoes, belts, liquids, food, laptops, and light jackets. A five-year membership costs $78 and members can renew their membership online up to six months prior to expiration for another five-year term for $70.
In April, according to TSA, 94% of PreCheck members waited less than 5 minutes at the checkpoint. TSA's wait time standards for TSA PreCheck lanes are under 10 minutes and under 30 minutes for standard lanes.
Overall, the TSA said that it hopes to avoid any summer travel meltdowns this year, even with the increase in traffic. TSA Administrator David Pekoske said this week that extra TSA staff should support a more efficient and improved passenger system this summer.
“For passengers, this will mean better overall staffing for all of TSA's activities that support secure and efficient travel and an improved passenger experience. Our strong partnerships with airports and airlines will ensure we are able to anticipate and respond to changes in passenger travel throughout the summer,” he said.
“Passengers can help as well by being prepared, by having their identification ready when they begin screening and checking to make sure they aren't bringing firearms, oversized liquids or any other prohibited