In a first for a U.S. airline loyalty program, Alaska Airlines is offering members of its Mileage Plan program the option to redeem miles to pay for TSA PreCheck service.
For 10,000 miles, MileagePlan members will receive an authorization code waiving the $85 PreCheck application fee. Once the application is approved, Precheck remains in effect for five years.
PreCheck expedites security clearance by allowing prescreened travelers to pass through airport security checkpoints without removing their shoes, belts, or coats, or removing their laptops or eligible liquids from their carry-on bags.
The new redemption option is offered on a limited-time basis, through April 30. It does come with a smidgen of risk: The miles are non-refundable, so anyone failing to qualify for TSA’s trusted-traveler status will walk away empty-handed.
Deal or No Deal
The math here is straightforward: an $85 service in exchange for 10,000 miles, so 0.85 cents per mile.
Compared with the 2 cents per mile that program members could easily obtain by redeeming for free airline flights, the PreCheck award option is a less than compelling value.
Still, it is another option, in a program with an awards catalog that is already pretty robust. And more options are always better than the alternative.
Reader Reality Check
Would you redeem 10,000 miles for TSA PreCheck service?
After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.
This article first appeared on SmarterTravel.com, where Tim Winship is Editor-at-Large.