Airport optimism is big in business travel these days, courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration.
The trusty TSA originally tested expedited screening programs at 40 airports in the past couple of years, speeding up the process for thousands of frequent travelers. And the popular programs will expand to 60 more American airports this year, with some delightful additions to the system.
Screening gets smarter
The TSA recently unveiled plans to adopt a three-tiered system for passenger and baggage screening at U.S. airports, pre-select passengers for "expedited, standard or enhanced" screening at the time of booking.
The new system relies on existing data in Secure Flight, the database used to match reservation records with the FBI’s watch list and requires booking systems to include a slew of data, including full names, gender, date of birth and Known Traveler Number, if applicable, among other things.
PreCheck gets awesome
Low-risk passengers chosen for expedited screening will be assigned lanes now used for the TSA’s PreCheck program, which allows U.S. citizens in certain frequent traveler programs to zip through security lines.
The result is some great perks are in the works for PreCheck travelers:
- Pre-approved airline travelers can leave their laces alone; shoes, light outerwear and belts are okay to go through the line.
- PreCheck passengers can also leave their laptops in their cases and leave liquids in carry-on bags.
- And until now, airlines invited frequent fliers to participate in PreCheck, but the TSA is launching an application program later this year to let travelers fill out their own online application and provide fingerprints. Applicants must pay an $85 enrollment fee for five years of eligibility.
The TSA’s goal is to have 25% of U.S. airline traffic using PreCheck by the end of next year in the interest of speeding up airport security. More than 15 million passengers have gone through the program since it was kicked off in October 2011; but since 1.8 million people fly each day, there’s a ways to go toward efficiency at the airport.
Still, the PreCheck program will operate at 100 airports across the country in 42 states this year, not to mention programs in Guam and Puerto Rico. We say, the more expansion the merrier for this smart and efficient TSA program.