The U.S. Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) recently announced a rule change that the agency hopes will make air travel easier for people traveling with teenagers. Its PreCheck service now allows teens to accompany their TSA PreCheck-enrolled parents through expedited security screenings at airports.
“Teenagers aged 13-17 may now accompany TSA PreCheck enrolled parents or guardians through TSA PreCheck screening when traveling on the same reservation and when the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on the teen’s boarding pass,” the agency said in a press release on May 22.
Before this rule change only children ages 12 and under were allowed to go through the TSA PreCheck line without registration.
Teenagers previously could only join a parent or guardian in expedited security lines if a parent or guardian applied and paid for a TSA PreCheck registration for the teen.
If they hadn’t enrolled their teens in TSA PreCheck, parents would either need to split up their travel party so the teenagers could go through standard security or join the teenagers and not take advantage of their registration.
What Is TSA PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck allows registered passengers to bypass the standard security process. This line-skipping service can cut down on wait time for travelers to five minutes or less, which can be helpful for people who don’t like crowds or maybe have a tight window to make a flight.
There are also other perks to TSA PreCheck: Passengers can keep their shoes on and don’t have to remove liquids and laptops from their carry-on bags.
Registration for TSA PreCheck costs $78 and is valid for 5 years. After the first five years, travelers can renew the service for $70. There are currently 15 million TSA PreCheck members.
TSA PreCheck Rules For Teens
Teenagers are allowed to utilize TSA PreCheck under two conditions: The teenager must be on the same reservation as the parents or guardians, and the teenager’s reservation must have the TSA PreCheck indicator on the boarding pass.
Even with this new rule, TSA guidelines do state, “Children 13 to 17 may be randomly excluded from receiving TSA PreCheck on their boarding pass.” If excluded, teenage passengers must go through the standard security process.
It’s also important to note that unaccompanied minors must be registered for TSA PreCheck by a parent or guardian in order to get the benefits, regardless of the new policy.
Expect Crowded Airports This Summer
Easing TSA PreCheck age restrictions will make security screenings more efficient for passengers traveling during the busy summer season. According to a 2023 Federal Aviation Administration report, about 2.9 million people fly in and out of U.S. airports in 45,000 flights per day.
This summer, travel experts anticipate air travel demand will return to pre-COVID levels, even though some of the issues passengers experienced recently have not fully been resolved. Officials wanted to act quickly to alleviate backlogs of travelers in airports and are taking multiple steps — including this one — to make sure air travel is more efficient this year.