Travel Groups on Board With New TSA Security Program
Recent expansions of the Transportation Security Administration’s Pre-Check program, aimed at cutting the wait time at airport security checkpoints, are earning praise from several travel associations.
Well ahead of the holiday travel rush, the Transportation Security Administration announced last week that it will expand its expedited screening program—known as TSA Pre-Check—to 60 new airports, bringing the total number of airports that participate in the program to 100. At the same time, the agency is introducing a program that will randomly select low-risk passengers to for quicker screening on a flight-by-flight basis.
Pre-Check, which launched in October 2011, allows pre-approved airline travelers to proceed through security checkpoints with their shoes and belts on and their laptops in their cases. Eligible passengers are members of frequent flier programs invited by participating airlines, as well as members of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler program.
The randomly selected passengers will enjoy the benefits of Pre-Check without being formally enrolled. They will not be asked to submit personal information beyond what is required to book a flight.
“The government and TSA are collecting no new information,” Joseph Salvator, TSA’s deputy assistant administrator, told the Washington Post. “Everything we’re using to make these risk assessments is information that the passengers currently provide the TSA, which is name, date of birth and gender. … When TSA was stood up after 9/11, we treated everybody the same. We’re trying to move off that model and use a risk-based approach and the intelligence we have developed over the years.”
According to TSA, if a passenger is eligible for the program, a Pre-Check indicator will be embedded in the barcode of the boarding pass so that, when presented at the security checkpoint, the passenger will be referred to a Pre-Check lane. Some airlines have started to print an indicator on the boarding pass so passengers will know in advance if they have been cleared for expedited screening.
“As TSA continues to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to transportation security, we are looking for more opportunities to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way possible,” TSA Administrator John S. Pistole said in a statement. “Expanding TSA Pre-Check to more locations enables many more passengers across the country to experience expedited screening.”
The program has been well-received in the travel industry.
“Quick, easy airport security checkpoint screening like TSA Pre-Check saves business travelers time and money while ensuring security,” Michael W. McCormick, executive director and COO of the Global Business Travel Association, said in a statement.
The U.S. Travel Association (USTA) also cheered the program’s expansion.
“A decade ago, the widespread assumption was that we couldn’t enjoy sound security and passenger convenience at the same time. Pre-Check has given us the evidence that that’s not the case,” Roger Dow, USTA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “TSA has provided the tools to get passengers through the nation’s airports more quickly and safely. Given that travel is a $2 trillion industry that supports one out of every eight jobs, Pre-Check is a program that benefits not just travelers, but the country as a whole.”
TSA plans to have the random selection program in place in the next several weeks, well before airports feel the crunch of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The new airports joining the Pre-Check program expect to have the new checkpoints established by the end of the year.