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Precheck Expansion Resulting In Longer Lines

By Expert Author: Steve Robinson

People who frequently travel as a result of cheap travel options, such as cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, and cheap vacation packages, are sometimes discouraged by the long lines they face going through airport security.

In an attempt to expedite travel through airport security lines, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) PreCheck program is being more than doubled in size.

Recent feedback from travelers indicate that there are longer PreCheck lines than before the latest expansion, as well as sometimes longer waits than at standard airport security lines.

TSA announced in September that it was expanding its popular expedited security program to 60 new airports in addition to the 40 airports already offering this program. Today PreCheck enables qualified travelers on seven airlines to pass through dedicated security checkpoints at 97 airports. By the end of this year there will be 100 airports participating.

Participating travelers do not have to remove their shoes when going through airport security checkpoints or take their laptops out of their carry-on bag. Airlines currently part of this program are Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, United, US Airways, and Virgin America. JetBlue is planning on joining shortly.

Some travelers have noticed that as the number of PreCheck passengers increases wait times at their dedicated lines at airport security checkpoints have grown as well.

TSA refuses to provide the number of PreCheck participants. It has acknowledged that 18 million passengers have gone through PreCheck lanes since the program started in October of 2011. Select members of frequent flier programs have been invited to apply for PreCheck privileges by participating airlines. Others have qualified by being members of an existing Customs and Border Protection Trusted Travel program, such as Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI.

TSA intermittently allows low risk travelers to use a PreCheck lane on a case by case basis. By the end of this year PreCheck will be open to all U.S. citizens. To apply, travelers will have to pay an $85 fee and agree to a background check and fingerprinting. Membership is good for five years.

TSA plans to address complaints about slower lines by expanding the number of PreCheck lanes and their availability. The whole point of the process is that it is supposed to provide expedited screening for trusted travelers in the most efficient way possible.

Ultimately TSA’s objective is to have the majority of U.S. fliers viewed as trustworthy travelers who pose no threat to others on a plane.
Eventually almost all screening positions at airports will be devoted to PreCheck members.
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