By Deborah Charles
WASHINGTON, Sept 4 The agency that screens U.S.
airline passengers for security clearance said on Wednesday it
would expand an expedited program to 60 more airports this year,
allowing tens of millions of travelers to keep on their shoes
and belts at airport checkpoints.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said its
TSA PreCheck program will operate at 100 airports in 42 U.S.
states plus Guam and Puerto Rico. The agency also plans to
expand the number of TSA PreCheck lanes at the existing 40
airports in the coming weeks.
With TSA PreCheck, pre-approved airline travelers may leave
on their shoes, light outerwear and belt while they go through
security. They do not have to remove laptop computers from cases
or take out approved-sized liquids out of carry-on bags before
the bags are screened.
"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 Pistole said.
Passengers who are eligible for PreCheck include U.S.
citizens of frequent traveler programs who are invited to apply
by participating airlines including Alaska Airlines,
American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines,
United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America.
Additionally, U.S. citizens who are members of a Customs and
Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler program and Canadian
citizens who are members of the NEXUS expedited travel program
qualify to participate.
The TSA will launch an application program later this year
for PreCheck, which lets travelers fill out an online
application and provide fingerprints. Applicants must pay an $85
enrollment fee for a five-year term of eligibility.
If a passenger is approved for PreCheck, a TSA PreCheck
indicator will be embedded in the barcode of the boarding pass,
allowing the passenger to move to the expedited screening line.
TSA can revoke or suspend the PreCheck if a passenger has
had security issues at the gate or has committed a crime since a
PreCheck was granted, a TSA official said. In addition, TSA
could randomly require a PreCheck passenger to go through
The TSA said to date, more than 15 million passengers have
experienced TSA PreCheck since it was launched in October 2011.
But this is still just a small fraction of the 2 million
passengers each day passing through U. S. Airports.
The U.S. Travel Association, a travel industry group, has
praised the TSA for launching PreCheck and for speeding the
process through airports by removing low-risk travelers from the
regular screening process.
Erik Hansen director of domestic policy for the association,
said the challenge will be to get more people to enroll in
PreCheck to speed the security screening process.