More than half of fliers in the USA are using TSA Pre-Check lanes. The program is at 119 airports nationwide and its goal is for speeder processing of select passengers who have paid an $85 fee, have been fingerprinted and have undergone a computer security check. The benefit is big – fliers go through designated Pre-Check lanes and — unlike other passengers — are allowed to leave on shoes, belts and light jackets. They can keep a laptop in a case and liquids and gels in a 3-1-1 compliant bag in a carry-on.
According to the Washington Post:
More than half the people passing through U.S. airports now receive preferential security treatment because they pose no clear threat to aviation safety, federal officials say.
The shift has significantly reduced the lines at security checkpoints, according to the Transportation Security Administration, reflecting the goal of TSA Administrator John S. Pistole to move away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to screening passengers.
For years, the TSA faced criticism from Congress, the travel industry and fliers for giving the same scrutiny to grandmothers, toddlers, airline pilots, soldiers and other seemingly harmless passengers that it gives everyone else.
When Pistole arrived at TSA four years ago after a career at the FBI, he began a shift to an intelligence-driven, risk-based approach to keeping terrorists off airplanes. Under pressure from Capitol Hill and U.S. Travel Association lobbyists, he also wanted to reduce the time passengers spent snaking through lines at security checkpoints.
Recent TSA data shows Pistole’s evolution has brought wait times down significantly.Ultra-long waits of 20 minutes or more have been reduced by 64 percent, according to the agency.
Those reductions have been achieved by exempting more than half of all passengers from the same level of attention that everyone received in the past.
Some of the exemptions are newer than others. Members of the military, passengers under the age of 12 or over the age of 75, and civilian Defense Department workers are among those who go through special lines that don’t require shoe, belt or jacket removal, or taking laptop computers from their cases.
More fliers using the TSA Pre-Check program is great – but only as long as the TSA can keep the line moving quickly. Spending $85 for 5 years of the program is a pretty good deal, but it’s more worth it to spend $100 on Global Entry to receive your Known Traveler Number which works in conjunction with TSA Pre-Check. And the best deal for me was to let American Express pay for Global Entry as a benefit of the Platinum Card® from American Express.