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Is TSA PreCheck becoming worthless? A RANT about open times at airports!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Hours after landing – credit on the way!

I have just returned from my second Delta / AeroMexico partner elite mileage run and already, thanks to following my directions, seeing my points are pending posting. By tomorrow I should have full credit for run two and my wife will have shot from Silver to Platinum Medallion.

Not bad for a ~$500 ticket!

By midsummer I will have re-qualified for my Diamond status for 2019 and my wife will have hit that top level for the first time ever. Once that is done I am kicking around knocking out the ¼ Amex spend as well just to have done it since I am a blogger and love to test “what works”! No promises on this one but it may happen! But that is not what I am ranting about today. It is this:

This is crazy when I hold TSA PreCheck!

I am sick of the TSA and their closing TSA PreCheck, that I am PAYING FOR EACH YEAR, at times we need it most. AeroMexcio flies out of Chicago O’Hare (ORD) airport Terminal 5 (T5). I have arrived at 7ish, and this week at 8ish, and they had closed PreCheck because “things were so slow”.

Wait – what – Really?

In my case the lines were out to the point where you entered the security section and took 20-30 minutes to get to the agents checking your documents and then even LONGER as the lines were long to clear the magnetometers etc. Oh, and clearly you have every non-frequent flyer from everywhere on the planet who does not get the simple bits about quickly getting through security.

Now there is possibly one tiny solution to this, if you are willing to spend your time shuttling at ORD. You can try to clear TSA PreCheck at T2 or T3 and go to gate G17 and between 10:30AM and 8:30PM take the shuttle that runs you to M14 but why? Why take all that time when TSA PreCheck should be open when we clearly need them to be.

And it is not just ORD that has the problem. There are many airports that have TSA PreCheck but close them and give you “PreCheck lite”. I am mostly OK with this if we can use a fast line, that is, still avoid the insanity of a half hour wait to get to the front of the line. The point is:

I am paying for TSA PreCheck every year! Open the darn lines!

Am I out of line (no pun intended) here? You tell me. Is it really too much to ask that when, clearly, there is a need for TSA PreCheck to be open that they have them open at airports around the country? Are there other airports you frequent that you have found they close the TSA PreCheck lines way too early? Shout out in the comments below! – René



PS – Come back to the blog this afternoon as SWAG Saturday will be back!

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. I’ve luckily never had that experience at ORD. I fly our of T3 and their expanded TSA Pre check line they opened last year is great. I fly out Fridays between 3pm and 6pm and never wsit more than 5 minutes. I might just be lucky.

    I still find it valuable flying home from Florida. MCO without precheck should be included in one if the layers of hell

  2. Frankie Morgan Reply

    ATL’s International Terminal (F) which many people use exclusively for both domestic and international departures also limits TSA Precheck’s operating hours which is very frustrating especially since there is no Clear setup there.

  3. I got tired of it. It’s one reason I also signed up for clear which is pay to play and always open since it’s a business.

  4. AZDeltaFlyer Reply

    Pre check is run by the TSA (Transportation Security Agency) …. a government organization. Need I say anymore?

    Until every elected official (including the President) and every government employee has to suffer through the regular security lines, nothing will change.

  5. Tampa Intl was a disaster a couple weeks ago. At ALL times, there’s a line for everyone just to get to the Pre-check. So many other parts of that airport are laid out efficiently, until you get to security.

  6. Your a Diamond how was clear?

    As for TSA it is a government agency your expecting to much from them. They probably had a few people call in sick no consequences and they probably had other people standing around at other terminals but I am sure their union protects them being moved around.

  7. CLT is notorious for this. Last week LGA was closed so we got the ‘lite’ treatment. It’s a pain since we usually hit it when coming back from Europe and connecting to get home. We don’t always have a long connection. Worthless? No because I get to use it each time I leave home. Aggravating due to lack of consistency? Absolutely.

  8. Don in ATL Reply

    I second what Frankie says about ATL Terminal F (International Terminal). They close at certain hours of the day, and the times they close VARY. So you may think you know the hours of operation, but they change the hours constantly. And worse yet, there is no web page or phone number you can reference to see what the TSA Pre-Check hours are on the day you are traveling. Terrible, terrible service.

  9. +1 on your rant. SAN terminal 2 is more often closed than open (AA gates). Terminal 1 serving AS flights is so often closed that I had a fellow passenger telling me, “there is no different line for TSA pre here.” Infuriating.

  10. I gave up on Precheck (and global entry for that matter, becuase with the new International Kiosks, Global Entry saves you almost no time.)

    Instead I signed up for Clear. As someone above mentioned, it’s always open, and (unlike TSA) they are exceedingly polite and helpful.

    I’m tired of volunterally giving money to a government agency that consistently disappoints.

    Side note: What’s with the automated “bin feeders” at ATL? These things slow down the line more than anything they’ve ever done before, while at the same time, managing to separate your stuff between other people’s stuff. I’m sure they spent tens of thousands of dollars for these things that work far worse than the bloody TABLE that they replaced.

  11. At DCA it’s pretty worthless because everyone is a business person or government worker with PreCheck. So sometimes the PreCheck line is longer. Yet people still stand in it. Like it’s a status thing.

  12. Good points. I guess it would be a dream for TSA to communicate with your airline app. Imagine, instead of getting an alert that your flight is delayed, getting an alert that you should go through a specific TSA checkpoint. The technology is already there for this to happen. One can only dream.

  13. I have pre check but lately get it only 50% of the time !! Nuts at check it a GA said do u really have it?? Daaaa

  14. The automated bin feeders in ATL are not nearly as bad as the TSA morons they’ve hired to monitor them.

  15. It seems to be a American problem. I am travelling international – and the worst security ceckpoints are that one in the US. Even in Istanbul, known for its bazar – feeling it is fatser than most US Airports.
    I am using TSA-pre now for 4 Years and the experience couldn´t be more mixed. On the lower end: MCO, LAX (TBIT), DFW, PHX – on the top ATL, LAS, DTW.
    Maybe the 21st Century is comming one day to the US…

  16. Chuck Lowenstein Reply

    Last Sunday night, I had a 10:22 PM departure from ATL (the world’s busiest airport). I had no checked luggage and arrived at Clear at 9:10 only to find that they close at 9 PM. What? How can they do that at ATL. So, I went over to the TSA pre-check entrance and, that was closed as well. It took me 28 minutes to clear security. Yes, I made my flight, but what is going on here? I’m particularly disappointed in Clear and, even though it is free with my Diamond, closing that early at that airport is ridiculous.

    • ATL has a gazilion security lines, but usually only a few are open. They have just re-done the approach area so your view of the security is obfuscated, so you can’t see how few are actually open while you spend an hour standing there. It’s like Walmart, 60 registers, and only 10 open at Christmas time.

      ATL really is the worst lately. Can’t wait to move near a different airport.

  17. About half the time I try and use pre-check, it’s closed. I’ve experienced this many times in Atlanta, as well as a variety of airports. The last time it was closed in Atlanta, it took over and hour-and-a-half to clear TSA. I paid for pre for my dad so that he doesn’t have to stand in lines so long, as he refuses to use a wheelchair. I’ve also noticed a trend that pre-checks that are located after clearing customs are always closed. I am starting to wonder what I’m paying for.

    It would be great if some of my credit cards would offer Clear reimbursements as an option to Global Entry.

  18. @JakePB Jake, I understand your frustration.
    For mid afternoon SAN departures, TSA pre check lines are usually closed. As a result it can take 45 minutes to clear security for Delta departures. UGH! To avoid the delay use the AA TSA check point in Terminal 2 instead of the Delta TSA checkpoint. From there it’s only a five minute walk to Delta departure gates but the AA TSA lines are virtually non existent. When SAN TSA Pre Check is closed, using the AA TSA checkpoint for Delta departures will save you a minimum of 30 minutes. And on the walk from there to Delta departure gates you’ll get to see some great art on display. And if you have the Am Ex Platinum card you and two guests can hit the SAN AirSpace Lounge/Admirals club before your trek to Delta departure gates (or Sky Club).

  19. Three years ago PreCheck was closed when I got to CLT for a late flight. TSA didn’t even offer PreCheck Lite. I asked the TSA supervisor why there was not any accommodation for PreCheck customers like every other airport, and she had never heard of PreCheck Lite, or any variations on the name. She denied that TSA had anything like that anywhere.

    Later I found several photos of the PreCheck cards many airports hand out online and showed them to her. The Supervisor again denied that there was any such program and if I had a complaint, fill out a TSA complaint card.

    I did that and actually received a phone call from a CLT airport official. This guy understood what I was talking about, but said the airport’s hands were tied by the TSA.

    I don’t know if that was true or not, but I hope that CLT now has some system in place now to accommodate PreCheck passengers after PreCheck closes.

  20. At CVG the non-pre check line is considerably shorter than Pre-check so we have skipped Pre-check here lately.

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