The Transportation Security Administration is aggressively encouraging more people to sign up for TSA PreCheck (or, as TSA puts it: Preü™), a program that permits travelers to go through airport security without having to take off their shoes or light jackets or pulling liquids and laptops out of baggage. They can also walk through metal detectors rather than enduring full-body scanners. By doing background checks on PreCheck enrollees and scanning law-enforcement databases, TSA offers what is essentially pre-9/11 screening to “trusted travelers.” The goal for TSA is to make better use of its designated security lanes, which currently number 590 at 118 U.S. airports. TSA believes PreCheck also enhances aviation security by moving prescreened people from regular lanes and letting screeners focus more closely on other travelers. To entice travelers and test its ability to handle more people, TSA has been selecting regular travelers into PreCheck lanes for a sample of swifter security. Selection is based on criteria such as a passengers’ travel history and the route being flown. TSA officers trained in behavior detection also can move passengers they deem low-risk from regular queues into PreCheck lanes.
TSA is also encouraging travelers to apply to the program directly. The agency is opening enrollment centers across the country, letting people who are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents make an appointment or drop in and have fingerprints taken digitally. The $85 background-check fee buys five years of enrollment. TSA expects to have centers at 35 to 40 airports by the end of May and perhaps 75 by the end of 2014. Applications also are taken at many government offices. For locations of enrollment offices and other information, see www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck.
Launched in 2011 by invitation only, the program was expanded to include people enrolled in Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program for trusted travelers. Global Entry requires a background check, fingerprinting, and an interview with a Customs officer. Global Entry costs $100 for five years and is an even better deal for people also planning travel outside the U.S. because they also automatically included in PreCheck. But, the application and interview process is more extensive.