First European Airline Joins PreCheck, Total Airlines Up to 18 With More Coming

While not the first foreign airline to join PreCheck — that nod belongs to Air Canada, and now even Aeromexico and Etihad participate — Lufthansa has become the first European airline to make it possible for ‘trusted travelers’ to expedited US outbound security.

PreCheck is TSA’s Strategy to Get a Handle on Security Lines

Airport security lines became insufferably long in the spring, but improved over the summer as the TSA seasaws between absurd overcautiousness and prioritizing speed.

While airlines are spending some money on the problem, Delta bought into CLEAR and and redesigned checkpoints while airlines generally added staff to bark at passengers how to get through queues efficiently, overall airlines just want the government to spend more or security rather than fixing airport security.

TSA Agents in Charlotte Watch News of the TSA’s Failure to Detect Weapons and Bombs, Instead of Searching for Weapons and Bombs (HT: Tocqueville)

Anything that grows PreCheck, though, is good for wait times and good for passengers who are able to get out of queues more quickly and without giving a peep show to a TSA employee in a booth.

The First European Airline Joins PreCheck

Lufthansa has joined PreCheck. A Global Entry, Nexus, or PreCheck member only gets to go through expedited security when their airline also participates, so this should be a great benefit to outbound Lufthansa travelers.

The current list, then, of participating airlines is:

  • Aeromexico
  • Air Canada
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Allegiant
  • American Airlines
  • Cape Air
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Etihad Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Lufthansa
  • OneJet
  • Seaborne Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • WestJet

It’s been expected that both Spirit and Frontier will get set up with PreCheck in the coming months.

Spirit and Frontier have been holdouts among US airlines because of the IT investment necessary to integrate with TSA for PreCheck. They make money by not making any investments which are unrelated to inflight safety or which they cannot monetize. There are 6 reasons that United, Delta, and American are better than the ultra low cost carriers when price is the same. Lack of PreCheck is one of those reasons.

Getting PreCheck and Expedited Immigration

Global Entry is fantastic skipping the immigration and customs queues when you return to the U.S.

I didn’t love the fingerprinting or background check that went along with it, but I figured all my cell phone data was being logged anyway long before Edward Snowden was cool. So if the surveillance was inevitable I figured I might as well at least get the convenience.

Now that I have it, it’s hard to imagine life without it — and not just queuing up at immigration, but also that I always get PreCheck at TSA now rather than having it be hit-or-miss through my airline elite status.

Signing up for PreCheck just gets you expedited airport security ($85). Signing up for Global Entry gets you expedited immigration and PreCheck ($100). Nexus gets you the benefits of Global Entry and PreCheck and also gets you expedited immigration into Canada and is the cheapest ($50). All three last 5 years.

It makes virtually no sense to me to get just PreCheck, Global Entry makes the most sense for many people because many credit cards will rebate the signup cost — for instance the Platinum Card by American Express, Citi Prestige, and Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.

Maintaining Global Entry and PreCheck

Once you have it you don’t want to lose it. When coming into the country be sure to declare chocolates, candy bars, chips, or any various items of sustenance whether open or closed, for personal consumption at the airport or meant as gifts. Even if it’s just chocolates off of your flight.

And be sure to keep your profile up to date for instance if you get a new passport.

Expedited Screening Even When PreCheck Lanes are Closed

Whenever I’m at an airport which doesn’t offer PreCheck, or PreCheck lanes are closed (like in Philadelphia at 6pm or Miami just because), I still get expedited screening.

  • You keep your shoes on
  • Your Freedom Baggie of liquids stay in your bag (but honestly, they do anyway, I don’t remember the last time I saw a screener insist you take your liquids out of the bag)
  • Your laptop is still supposed to come out of your bag
  • You go through the metal detector, not the nude-o-scope

I still use a laptop bag that’s “TSA Approved” and so I just have to unclip the bag rather than taking the laptop out.

Playmobil Security Playset

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. You what makes no sense? The wait time for a Global Entry interview. Anyone who wants expedited security in a couple weeks vs several months from now might indeed choose PreCheck over GE.

  2. I used to have Nexus but renewed with GlobalEntry. Nexus = limited list of locations to do joint US/Canada interviews.

  3. Gary Leff wrote “It makes virtually no sense to me to get just PreCheck.”

    Remember, though, that there’s a small but significant number of people like myself — and the NY Times former Frugal Traveler — who were denied GE without being told why. For folks like us, standalone PreCheck is a godsend.

  4. This whole PreCheck/Global Entry nonsense is just pathetic. TSA & CBP just should do their work properly.

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