I recently got my global entry card and when I wanted to go to TSA-PreCheck lane with my regular boarding pass - obtained via online check-in I was stopped and sent to the counter to obtain paper boarding pass which contained TSA-PreCheck stamp on it. This procedure kinda defeated the purpose of TSA-Precheck for me. I asked the staff if you can obtain this "special" boarding pass online and they didn't know. That is my question. My next flight is soon, I already checked in with American Airlines and I'm wondering if I can get boarding pass online which would be accepted by TSA staff on the airport.
Your "known traveler number" (which is the PASSID printed on the Global Entry card) should be given to the airline before checking in, usually during booking (or if they allow editing the reservation - after that). All major US airlines, and many international airlines, participate in the program. For the participating airlines, if they have your PASSID in the system, the TSA PRE would be printed out on the boarding pass (or the TSA PRE logo will be shown on the electronic boarding pass).
Even if you have the TSA PRE, unless it is explicitly mentioned on the boarding pass you cannot use the TSA PRE lane. So if you're flying with airlines who don't participate in the program, or you didn't update the PASSID with your airline ahead of time before checking in - you'll need to go through the regular TSA checks.
You may for various reasons not be approved for TSA PRE for a specific flight, even if you do update everything on time. In this case you'll still need to go through the regular lanes. This happens pretty rarely though.
TSAPre is never guaranteed but you can maximize the chances of getting it by doing things in the following order:
- Create an account with the airline
- Add your Known Traveler Number (KTN) to your profile (if available)
- Book online with the airline. Add KTN if the option is available. In many cases this will automatically be added if it's on your profile already
- Check-in. Add or check KTN, if the option is available.
- Check your boarding pass. If it doesn't say TSAPre on it, budget a little extra time to swing by the customer service desk (if you care enough).
It still can be hit or miss. I have twice run into Lufthansa check-in agents who didn't even know what Global Entry was. In either case, talking to a different agent, resolved the issue.