I recently flew from Houston to Cancun in United Business Class and noticed something very strange: my grandparents who were travelling with me got TSA Pre-Check… and they aren’t U.S. residents/citizens and just have a U.S. Visa from Poland and a Polish Passport.

To be clear:

  • I booked my reservation separately after they booked theirs since I didn’t know if I was going to go
  • None of the two reservations were linked in any way
  • They are not frequent flyers (though did have their Miles & More numbers in the system)
  • They aren’t U.S. residents/citizens or members of any trusted traveller programme
  • Our last names are different (not that it should matter)

How in the world did they get Pre-Check? Obviously I had it so we all went through the Pre-Check line and cleared security in no time. I’m really puzzled about this since I know that U.S. citizens sometimes get randomly selected for Pre-Check even if they are not frequent flyers… but Polish citizens who have no relationship with the U.S. government except a U.S. Visa?

The TSA Website mentions nothing about non-U.S. residents getting Pre-Check, so I have no clue how my grandparents got it. If anyone knows why this happened and can explain it, it would be awesome since I have absolutely no clue.

Q. Who is eligible for TSA Pre✓®?

A. Travelers that are eligible for TSA Pre✓® include:

  • U.S. citizens of frequent flyer programs who meet TSA-mandated criteria and who have been invited by a participating airline.
  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents with a Known Traveler Number (KTN), sometimes referred to as a trusted traveler number.
  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are members of the TSA Pre✓® application program.
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Reserves, and National Guard.
  • Department of Defense and U.S. Coast Guard civilian employees.
  • Members of the following U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) trusted traveler programs:
    • All members of Global Entry.
    • U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and Canadian citizens who are members of NEXUS.
    • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are members of SENTRI.