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ANSWER: You can go as a walk-in applicant, but you will be subject to availability, since appointments have priority over walk-ins. And the only way to get an appointment is to go through the pre-application process online first. It also will help speed up the process for you.
So I will provide you with information on how to get enrolled in TSA PreCheck and set up an appointment.
TSA PreCheck Participation
To get into the TSA PreCheck program one should apply for the program in person, at an Application Center. Here is a link to find the nearest enrollment center: https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/locator.
You can pre-apply before the appointment so that your application is ready to go when you arrive. The application can be found here: http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/apply.
Now, if you want to enroll in a Trusted Traveler program instead, which gives you both the benefits of TSA PReCheck expedited screening, as well as expedited re-entry to the US from international travel, you can do that instead.
Other Trusted Traveler Programs
Here is information on the other Trusted Traveler programs: http://www.dhs.gov/trusted-traveler-programs.
Global Online Enrollment System is the best pace to start: https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/main/goes. You should get a Trusted Traveler number through one of those programs.
Create a new profile. This process will screen your background and allow individuals who pass the screening to obtain a Trusted Traveler number. Once you have the Trusted Traveler number, when you are making reservations with a participating airline and through a participating airport, there will be a space or option in your booking process that will say or ask for a "Known Traveler Number" or "KTN." This is where you include the Trusted Traveler number. This process will put the number on your boarding pass and allow you to use the expedited screening lane, if you are chosen for PreCheck.
It should be noted that a Trusted Traveler or TSA PreCheck enrollee is not always guaranteed expedited service. Only when it is indicated on the boarding pass will you be eligible for TSA PreCheck. This is because the TSA randomizes which travelers are granted PreCheck access on any given trip, for security reasons. So you can be offered PreCheck for one trip, but not necessarily another. Again, this randomization is for security reasons. You can find this information here, under "Other Ways to Experience TSA PreCheck": http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/participation-tsa-precheck%C2%AE.
Finally - this is fairly rare - if PreCheck is not a option and you are elderly or require additional assistance to travel due to medical conditions or a disability, you can get assistance at the airport by using a program called TSA Cares.
If you call TSA Cares at least 72 hours before the flight, you can get assistance getting through the lines quicker, due to age or medical condition/disability: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/travelers-disabilities-and-medical-conditions
Here is the number that you can call to contact TSA Cares for assistance. 1 - 855 - 787 - 2227.
The hours of operation for the TSA Cares help line are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. EST and weekends and Holidays 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST.
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