AAdvantage Elites: Allow yourself more time to get through Pre-Check

The TSA recently expanded Pre-Check to include more travelers in the program and while for many people it will mean less time spent in line and less hassles going through security, for passengers who have been using Pre-Check all along it will be just the opposite: more people means longer lines.

I’ve been enrolled in Pre-Check since the beginning and have become used to spending no more that five minutes going through security, and because of this I’ve started showing up to the airport 30 minutes before boarding.

I don’t use the world ‘Love’ lightly, but I love Pre-Check. Last week at La Guardia I went from cab to the Admirals Club in less that 10 minutes. That’s not unusual, most times, even with just 30 minutes to get to the gate, I still have time to stop by the Admirals Club to check email and grab a cup of coffee.

No more! This was the Pre-Check line this morning at DFW Terminal A:

Long Pre-Check line at DFW Terminal A

Passengers were divded into two lines: General Boarding/No Priority/No Pre-Check in one line, and First Class/Priority AAcess/Pre-Check passengers in the other.

The TSA agents did a great job of going down the Priority AAcess line to explain how it works, but despite the instructions there was still a lot of confusion and questions from Pre-Check newbies and infrequent fliers

If you’re an AAdvantage Elite or someone who purchases Priority AAcess then adding so many Pre-Check folks to priority line sort of negates the value of Priority AAcess.

It took about 20 minutes to clear security. That’s something that we’ll probably have to get use to, I have a feeling that longer wait times are the new normal.

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the TSA effort to speed up the security process by opening up Pre-Check to more passengers, but I wonder if there might not be a better way to do it.

Perhaps we need a Priority Access Pre-Check line.


Be warned, if you’re traveling and used to quickly clearing security with Pre-Check you might want to build some extra time into your schedule.


    • @ Debbie – If it wasn’t so much trouble to get undressed and then dressed again, I would almost consider using the General Boarding line. 😉

  1. For the non precheck at SFO it can often be faster to use the general boarding lines rather than the UA priority security line.

    • @ Levy Flight – Thanks for sharing!

      @ PhilH – I never thought to use the TSA App, I wasn’t even aware that they had one. Great advice!

  2. The PreCheck line at the new part of DFW’s terminal A can be a sobering experience during the Monday rush. I often walk down to the next check point to get through security. TSA’s app can be helpful to gauge which checkpoints are jammed up.

  3. I ran into the same thing at ORD T3 last week. 75 people in Priority Access Precheck line and only 15 in regular Priority Access line. I decided to chance regular priority access line, and cleared security 5 people ahead of where I would have been if I had gone through precheck line. Many newbies in the precheck line, not aware that they didn’t have to remove belts and computers. Hopefully this clears up once the newbies learn the ropes.

  4. More info on the TSA app: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/my-tsa-mobile-application

    I flagged an entry at DFW terminal B with a 20+ minute wait time last year and a TSA supervisor showed up to check on the line a couple of minutes later. I did the same thing the following three weeks and the same guy showed up again every time, surveying the line. Not sure if he was on a schedule or the TSA app back end sends supervisors real-time stats.

  5. A tip for those traveling at DFW, as someone who does it twice monthly or more: If you’re Pre-Check always go through security at Checkpoint C20. There is a dedicated TSA Pre-Check lane there, takes me about 3 minutes to get my boarding pass and clear security on a Monday morning. You can then take the SkyLink to your terminal. Saves tons of time, especially on a Monday morning! The other terminals have always has crazy Pre-Check lines due to the ‘mixed’ passenger type.

  6. Monday mornings in Atlanta are a lot like this. I was surprised to find the same on a recent Monday afternoon flight too. In the end, it did not take much more than 10 minutes…they kept things moving and have added an additional lane in Atlanta. But it sure is noticeably more crowded. No matter what, I’ll wait 10 minutes to avoid a rubdown and shoe removal.

  7. LGA C was slow this morning, and the TDC agent would let the checkpoint be empty since he had to split precheck and regular customers.

    fortunately, many airports are starting to add more Pre-check lanes. I suspect this will take time, and lag the demand, but eventually we will go from one TDC/Queue to 2, 3, and eventually most of the lines will be for PreCheck. We will likely also start to see separation of regular, elite, or precheck, into well as elite+precheck, regular+precheck, regular, elite.

  8. I just flew through DFW and they were letting (VERY obviously) non-precheck people in the line. They kept yelling (to the same people) leave your shoes on…leave you shoes on…keep your jacket on! These people didn’t understand what to do and it only made the lines move slower.

  9. On my last two trips from ORD I have experienced this problem. The TSA PRE-CHECK lines have grown very long and they have made the Priority Access regular lines more appealing. This is a good government program that got too popular.

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