An increasing number of travelers are choosing to bypass long security check lines by using the Transportation Security Administration's Precheck program. According to Travel + Leisure, even non-business travelers are opting for this route in order to eliminate extra travel hassles and time spent lingering in airport security lines.
Participants in the program can bypass the usual removing of shoes, belts and jewelry in security lines and instead just pass through a metal detector, much like pre 9/11 security measures. Precheck flyers also do not have to remove liquids and laptops from carry-on bags and do not have to undergo the full-body scan that has become the norm for most U.S. travelers.
The Precheck program allows screened applicants who pass a background check and pay a $100 fee to enroll in the convenient program. Precheck members can bypass all airport security measures except passing through a metal detector before boarding planes.
The program is becoming more and more popular, as 26,602 people applied for Precheck in February 2012, more than triple the number of applications in February 2011, according to Customs and Border Protection. In addition, February 2012 applications were up 42% from January 2012, as more travelers learned about the convenient program.
In order to be eligible to participate in the Precheck program, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be a frequent flyer from Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines or a member of Customs and Border Protection's Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI and NEXUS
- Pass a one-time extensive screening process, including a background check and an interview with a Customs officer
- Pay a $100 fee
Airports which currently participate in the Precheck program include:
- Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
- John F. Kennedy International Airport
- McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas
- Los Angeles International Airport
- LaGuardia Airport
- Orlando International Airport
- Miami International Airport
- Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
- Chicago O'Hare International Airport
- Portland International Airport
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
- Salt Lake City International Airport
TSA is continuing to expand the program to other U.S. airports and frequent flyer programs. Although the program makes travel more convenient, the TSA reserves the right to randomly search or check any individual in a U.S. airport at any time for security purposes.