TSA Hopes 'Pre-Check' Expedites Airport Security

Monday, 31 Dec 2012 03:21 PM

By Megan Anderle

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Federal officials probably hope the “trusted travelers” in a new program being pushed to speed airport security behave better than some of those in a similar effort at the nation's borders where drugs and weapons have almost slipped through. 
Under the Transportation Security Administration's “PreCheck” program, airline passengers who pay a $100 fee can be enrolled for expedited security screening after they undergo rigorous background checks and finger print scans, according to The Wall Street Journal.

They must also fill out a lengthy form online and go through an in-person interview with an agent from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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To be eligible, a passenger must be traveling domestically, be a frequent flier or a member of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler programs, and be a U.S. citizen. Participating airlines are Alaska, American, Delta, United and US Airways.
Once approved, passengers are cleared for five years under the “PreCheck” program and are free to go through the “old-fashioned” screening lanes while leaving on shoes and jackets, leaving laptop and liquids in carry-ons, and walking through metal detectors instead of body scanners, the Journal reported.
The program would reduce delays and allow security officials focus more closely on individuals who haven’t undergone background checks.
However, to keep security tight, participating passengers will not always have expedited screening process.
"We always will incorporate random and unpredictable measures into the security program to ensure that passengers can't game the system," Ann Davis, a TSA spokesperson, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
NBC affiliate KVOA in Tucson, Ariz., reported that a Yuma woman who was a member of a trusted traveler program was arrested at the Port of San Luis when a drug-sniffing dog alerted to the presence of cocaine in her purse.
Michigan Live reported that a traveler with ‘trusted’ status going through an expedited screening process at the U.S.-Canada border was found with a shotgun in his vehicle.
Over the next year, TSA officials hope to expand the airport program to people traveling internationally as well. When traveling home from outside the U.S., approved passengers could simply go to a kiosk with their passports and enter their information to avoid lines at passport control and Customs inspection.

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More than 5 million people have gone through a pilot version of the PreCheck program, which started in October 2011 at 35 airports across the U.S., said administrator John Pistole.
After successfully establishing the program’s efficiency, Pistole said the goal is to expand PreCheck as quickly as possible. He said the agency will study ways to get the right people crossing the currently underused lanes.

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