the promise of a shorter airport security queue: the u.s. precheck program begins

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If you are like me, you know all of the ins and outs of the U.S. security screening routine, and find it a challenge to try to shave off a few minutes from what can be an eternity waiting in the security screening queue. Helpful actions such as weaving in and out of travelers who don’t yet know their way around will gain you a position ahead of them in the queue, but ultimately, you must wait with everyone else while they figure out how to take off their belt. That is, perhaps, until now.

Frequent flyers in the United States who undergo prior government background checks are being allowed through airport security screening faster under what is being called the TSA PreCheck initiative. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration [TSA] announced yesterday that it began testing a limited, voluntary passenger pre-screening initiative at four U.S. airports. The TSA PreCheck initiative implements a key component of the agency’s intelligence-driven, risk-based approach to security. This pilot program will help assess measures designed to enhance security by placing more focus on pre-screening individuals who volunteer information about themselves prior to flying in order to potentially expedite the travel experience.

TSA PreCheck initiative is currently being tested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, Dallas/Fort Worth International and Miami International airports with the idea in mind that it would expand to other airports in the coming months. Fewer than 10,000 travellers are now participating in the program, which allows selected frequent flyers boarding American and Delta flights to use express security lanes — and avoid the hassle of having to remove coats, shoes, belts, feather boas, ten gallon hats or whatever else they may be wearing when they pass through detectors and screening devices. This process only applies to U.S. citizens who have undergone a prior background security check.

If this program expands nationally as the TSA envisions, U.S. citizens will be able to happily speed through the airport security queues and blow raspberries as they watch as non-U.S. citizens struggle to figure out how many milliliters are in 3.4 ounces. Sigh.

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