GREAT FALLS — From February 10th to the 14th, you can apply to enroll in the nationwide TSA PreCheck program at Great Falls International Airport.
On the second floor of the main terminal, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will conduct interviews and background checks to approve people for the PreCheck program.
To complete the application process, you must bring proof of identity and U.S. Citizenship documentation. Acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license, birth certificate and a U.S. Passport. If you bring your Passport, then that is the only form of ID that you will need.
Great Falls International Airport already has a lane for passengers enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program, but airport director John Faulkner says that people kept asking how they could sign up.
“What we’re finding is there’s still quite a few folks that haven’t signed up for the program,” Faulkner explained. “We’ve gotten a number of comment cards and a few phone calls over the last year asking that we bring back a PreCheck enrollment center. So we got into the program and got signed up and we’ve got one coming to town in February.”
The program is not something you can enroll in online due to the required interviews and important steps that are included in the process. While it may not seem like the program is very beneficial for a small, less than bustling airport like GTF, signing up for the program here has benefits all over the country.
“Unfortunately, most of the time we’re going to one of those busy airports on one of those busy airports on our trip, so that’s the benefit of it,” said Faulkner. “Our lines often times aren’t long, when you travel at Christmas time they can be, spring break and summer time they can be too, so you get a shorter line here, but the big benefit is if you end up traveling a Los Angeles for example, or even a Las Vegas, you’re going to save a lot of time in those lines, they can be very long. Denver, for example, often has very long lines, so when you travel to one of those towns, you’re going to get that benefit, and that will move a lot quicker.”
Once you sign up for the program here, there are more than 200 airports and 73 airlines nationwide that allow you to utilize that membership. You can find the full list of participating airports here.
As far as Montana goes, Great Falls usually ranks as the fifth-busiest airport in the state, according to Faulkner and according to most recent studies.
What people may not realize, however, is TSA PreCheck is just as much about the people coming into the airport, as it is about those going out.
“We’re always trying to bring in more flights. As many folks in the area know, the population in Great Falls is pretty stable, so it doesn’t afford us a lot of opportunities to bring in a great deal of new flights, and what we do see in the summertime is we’ve attracted more and more flights,” Faulkner said. “The Chicago flight, for example, that flight is about 80, 85 percent inbound. So what you’re seeing is an influx in the summertime of people coming in to Great Falls as we add additional flights. A lot of those folks are signed up for PreCheck, and so we are seeing more usage of the PreCheck as people from more areas come to our community.”
If you are interested in enrolling in the TSA PreCheck program, click here to visit the TSA website. You can submit an application online, and then schedule an appointment at an enrollment center, like the one coming to Great Falls, to do your background check and fingerprinting.
You can also get more information about the program there, such as the benefits, the costs of the program, and which airports in your home state or your travel destination state participate in TSA PreCheck.