TSA expanding PreCheck program designed to expedite screening

Published: Monday, Dec. 16 2013 3:59 p.m. MST

TSA agent Cindy Briggs checks the ticket information and ID for Kent and Barbara Richards as they pass through the expedited security line at Salt Lake City International Airport on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. Transportation Security Administration held a press conference to discuss the recent expansion of TSA PreCheck at Salt Lake City International Airport.

Matt Gade, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Transportation Security Administration announced Monday that the agency will expand its PreCheck program designed to offer expedited screening to low-risk passengers at Salt Lake City International Airport.

Initially launched in Utah in February 2012 in Terminal 2, the expanded TSA PreCheck program will also include the Terminal 1 security checkpoint, explained the head of passenger security at the airport.

"It was a symbol that TSA was moving away from a one-size-fits-all security approach to replacing it with an intelligence-driven, risk-based approach," said Paul Armes, TSA federal security director for Utah. "(The initiative) is enabling us to focus our resources on passengers that pose a higher risk, while providing expedited screening to those we consider a lesser risk."

In Salt Lake City, eligible passengers traveling on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Southwest, United Airlines and U.S. Airways may receive expedited screening benefits. Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin America also participate in the program at other airports around the country.

Currently, the TSA PreCheck program operates at 100 airports nationwide, Armes said, with more to come in the future.

TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening program that allows preapproved airline travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids or gels bag in a carry-on in select screening lanes.

To date, more than 15 million passengers have experienced TSA PreCheck since it launched in October 2011.

The initiative is aimed at enhancing security by placing more focus on prescreening individuals who volunteer information about themselves before flying to potentially expedite the travel experience, explained TSA public affairs officer Lori Dankers.

Eligible passengers include U.S. citizens of frequent traveler programs on participating airlines, as well as members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler programs — including Global Entry, SENTRI and Canadian citizens who are members of NEXUS.

If a passenger is eligible for expedited screening, a TSA PreCheck indicator will be embedded in the barcode of the boarding pass so when scanned at the checkpoint, the passenger may be referred to a priority lane, Dankers said.

Many participating airlines print a TSA PreCheck indicator directly on the boarding pass so passengers will know in advance whether they have been cleared for expedited screening, she said.

Because TSA reserves the right to incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport, no one will be guaranteed expedited screening, Dankers added.

Thus far, the program has drawn generally positive reviews, she said.

Frequent flyer David Adams of Park City said the program has helped improve his traveling experience greatly.

"It never takes me more than five minutes to get through security, so that's a very good thing," Adams said. "It's probably saved me a week's time over the year."

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