I consider myself a seasoned traveler, having averaged more than 100,000 miles/year over the last 25 years. So when something isn’t right, I usually pick up on it. That’s what happened when I was catching a recent flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Chicago (ORD). Since I wasn’t traveling with my family, I was traveling carry-on only, and I’d checked in online, so I had my boarding pass ready to go. I remember looking at the regular TSA security line and thinking, “Those poor people.” The wait had to be well over 30 minutes, and even the TSA PreCheck line was 15 people deep.
Feeling grateful, I cruised up to the three CLEAR kiosks, which were each in use but had no line. CLEAR costs $179/year (though there are ways to get it cheaper). One thing I love about CLEAR is that I don’t need to show my ID to use it, which means I can leave my wallet in my bag. I simply scan my fingerprints and my boarding pass and a representative walks me to the front of the TSA PreCheck line. That’s how it always works.
On this day, though, the representative walked me to the other side to the regular security line. I asked her if CLEAR had changed things up in the last few days, and she asked me, “Do you normally have TSA PreCheck?” I told that I always do. “It’s not on your boarding pass,” she said—and she was absolutely right! I’m so used to having it on there that I hadn’t double-checked.
TSA claims that PreCheck members don’t always get PreCheck privileges for safety reasons, so I figured that this was one of those times. The representative asked if I wanted to return to ticketing to clear things up, but I saw no need. I sucked it up, took my laptop out and shoes off (I wish I’d worn socks…), and that was that. But then…
Two days later when I checked in online for my next flight, I looked to see if TSA PreCheck was on my boarding pass. And guess what? It wasn’t, once again. I knew something was wrong. So when I arrived at Chicago O’Hare, I went straight to the check-in desk. I then asked the agent if my known traveler number was in the system. She told me that it was and then asked if my birthdate was January 1, 1990. “Thanks for the compliment,” I said, “but no.” That was the problem.
You see, a client had booked my ticket and apparently entered a random birthdate with my info. Once the agent had corrected the error, she reprinted my ticket. And sure enough, my TSA PreCheck stamp was on the new boarding pass. Since O’Hare doesn’t have CLEAR, this saved me a good 15 minutes in security. There wasn’t one person in the TSA PreCheck line while regular security was about 20 people deep and moving slowly.
What to do if TSA PreCheck isn’t printed on your boarding pass
Moral of the story: If you have TSA PreCheck and the checkmark isn’t printed on your boarding pass, check with an airline agent at the check-in desk. And make sure to double-check that your known traveler number, your birthdate, and the spelling of your name are inputted correctly.
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