Southwest Airlines (finally) joins PreCheck

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today announced the expansion of TSA PreCheck to Southwest Airlines, which operates from all three Bay Area Airports. (This does NOT apply to AirTran Airways, which Southwest Airlines purchased in 2012.) 

Today’s announcement makes a total of eight domestic carriers including: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America. 

As most frequent travelers know, PreCheck allows pre-approved travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on in select screening lanes.

The lanes are available at 100 airports nationwide, but not at all terminals leading to Southwest Airlines flights….yet. I touched base with each Bay Area airport this morning for a status on PreCheck lanes leading to Southwest Airlines flights:

  • SAN JOSE: “Yes, it’s our understanding that TSA is working to open Pre-check lanes for Southwest Airlines’ customers in SJC’s Terminal B as early as today. Pre-check lanes have been open in Terminal A since October. Remember that we also offer CLEAR in both of our terminals,” said spokesperson Rosemary Barnes. Southwest operates about half of all flights at SJC.
  • OAKLAND: “Yes, there are PreCheck lanes at the Terminal 2 security checkpoints leading to Southwest gates operating now,” reports spokesperson Kim Domerofski.
  • SAN FRANCISCO: According to the TSA site, there are now PreCheck lanes operating at Terminal 1, boarding area B, which lead to Southwest, US Airways, United and Alaska Air flights.
Passengers who are eligible for TSA PreCheck include U.S. citizens of frequent traveler programs — including Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards — invited by participating airlines. Additionally, U.S. citizens who are members of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler program and Canadian citizens who are members of CBP’s NEXUS program qualify to participate. Later this year TSA will launch an application program, allowing more U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to enroll in TSA PreCheck.

tsa_precheck_boardingIf a Southwest Airlines passenger is eligible for expedited screening, a TSA PreCheck indicator will be embedded in the barcode of the boarding pass so that when scanned at the checkpoint, the you’ll be granted access to a TSA PreCheck lane. Southwest Airlines will also print a TSA PreCheck indicator directly on the boarding pass so passengers will know in advance that they have been cleared for expedited screening. But remember, the TSA warns that is will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport, and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening. (which is why I still carry a CLEAR card, which works at both SFO and San Jose)

Here’s how it works:

Elite level Rapid Rewards members will receive notification that he/she is eligible to opt-in to the program and chooses to participate or a passenger includes a Known Traveler Number within a reservation, Southwest Airlines will share certain information with the TSA Secure Flight System.

Note: Only reservations booked after opting-in are eligible for TSA PreCheck.

Trusted Traveler participants will need to provide their CBP-assigned PASS ID number in the “Known Traveler #” field during the booking process at® The passenger’s Trusted Traveler information will be submitted along with reservation information to TSA’s Secure Flight system. Trusted Traveler program members should also remember to enter their full name, date of birth, and PASS ID exactly as it appears on their membership card.


Additionally, CBP Trusted Traveler participants can add their PASS ID number to their Rapid Rewards Member profile to have the number automatically sent to TSA when booking reservations. Remember, you must be logged into your Rapid Rewards account when booking a reservation for the information to prepopulate.

For more information, see

Chris McGinnis 

And just in case you missed it, here’s what else you need to know about Bay Area Travel over the last month:

>United to allow handhelds below 10K feet

>Travel advice fit for a Queen (Latifah!)

>New landing procedure at SFO should help w delays! Hallelujah!

>Big, bad United MileagePlus surprise 

>Virgin’s new Safety Dance

>Riding the Red Carpet Route to London! 

>Double Miles on United & Southwest

>$100 hotels in NYC 

>Two posh new lounges coming to SFO 


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  • JK

    I wouldn’t call $100 a no-brainer, if an invite from an airline would get me TSA Pre-Check for free (or do you still have to pay with an invite?) Thanks again, Delta, for recognizing my loyalty over the past 35+ years.

  • Chris McGinnis

    If you are not currently a high mileage flier w Delta, you will not get the invite. Instead, pay $100 and get Global Entry and you’ll automatically be eligible for PreCheck. It’s good for 5 years. No brainer.

  • JK

    Chris – I haven’t received an invite from Delta to sign-up for TSA Pre-Check, despite being a Million Miler (earned through years of international travel and dollars spent on the airline.) Can I contact Delta for an invite, or is this another slam against me now that I currently just have Silver status? Is there another way to apply for Pre-Check directly, without going through Delta or another airline?