The Transportation Security Administration has been urging travelers to sign up for its PreCheck trusted traveler program as the best way to avoid long lines at security checkpoints – but a new survey suggests that the PreCheck fee might be too pricey, slowing down enrollment.
TSA has a target of 25 million members for PreCheck, but it has fallen far behind that goal. So far, fewer than 2.8 million travelers have joined. Joining PreCheck requires a background interview at a TSA PreCheck enrollment center and payment of an $85 fee for a five-year membership.
The new survey of 1,000 domestic travelers conducted for the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) found that just over one in five said they expect to enroll in PreCheck as it is. But of the rest, half said they considered the $85 fee to be a deterrent to signing up for the program.
USTA said that if TSA would reduce the sign-up fee, that could go a long way toward boosting membership in PreCheck, which offers members an expedited security clearance process in which they don’t have to remove shoes or take laptops out of their cases. (PreCheck privileges are also extended to members of Customs & Border Protection’s Global Entry program, which carries a comparable $100 fee but also allows faster re-entry to the U.S. for international travelers.)
A lower fee and simpler enrollment procedure could bring in as many as 7 million new PreCheck members, USTA estimated. About one in five survey respondents who said they were unlikely to join cited a cumbersome enrollment process, and said they would prefer an online option.
TSA has made a big push to facilitate PreCheck membership in the past couple of years, using an outside vendor called MorphoTrust to expand the number of enrollment centers to 370 nationwide. The $85 fee is split between TSA, MorphoTrust and the FBI, which provides a fingerprint-based criminal background check for applicants.
What do YOU think? Is $85 (or just $17 per year) too much to pay for PreCheck? (Personally, I would probably pay more than that, but ….) Please leave your comments below!
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