If you’ve heard about the long lines at airports and are thinking that you should apply for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry, think again. Transportation Security Administration’s expedited traveler service is backlogged. Big time! In fact, the number of applicants has more than tripled in the last few months. We’re talking about 16,000 applicants a day!
It can take weeks or months (depending on where you live) to score an interview appointment, which is required to complete the enrollment process. That won’t help you much this summer. I recently read that there are no appointments available in the San Francisco area until mid-November. In L.A. the first available interview is early September. This timeline is pretty much the same for most major cities. If you apply now, expect that you will not get an interview appointment until late fall or early 2017. However, if you live in a small or mid-size city (or are willing to drive to one), your wait time should be shorter. Also, bear in mind that it takes a 2-3 weeks after your interview to receive your traveler number.
The good news is that you may not need Pre-Check or Global Entry this summer. TSA has just hired many more agents and is also paying overtime to employees to reduce security lines. Additionally, airlines are paying for non-governmental employees to assist TSA, which reduces wait times. Effective mid-June, you can now download the MY TSA app to discover the wait time at most airports. This app lets you know when to be at the airport so that you’re not there too early or too late.
For more about these programs, TSA travel tips, MY TSA app, and baggage restrictions, visit www.tsa.gov.