The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the addition of United at O'Hare and US Airways at Reagan Washington National to the list of airline and airport combinations eligible for expedited security.
When enrolled travelers get to the entry point for security screening, the agent there directs them to a special line that bypasses some of the regular procedures and presumably gets them through the system faster than other travelers. You can get into the PreCheck program two ways:
- Alaska, American, Delta, United, and US Airways are issuing invitations to eligible members of their frequent-flyer programs. This system is "Don't call us; we'll call you," meaning that the initiative is with the airlines.
- Even if you aren't invited, you can get in by enrolling first in one of the several Trusted Traveler groups through the Customs and Border Patrol's Global Entry program.
In addition to gaining access to a separate, expedited security line, members of PreCheck may be allowed to keep their shoes on, keep 3-1-1 compliant liquids in their carry-on baggage throughout the screening process, leave laptops in cases or in carry-on baggage, and leave jackets, outerwear, and belts on during screening. The TSA states, however, that even PreCheck members may be selected for more intensive random inspection.
PreCheck is currently available at the newly announced facilities, as well as to Alaska Airlines travelers at Portland and Seattle-Tacoma; American passengers at Chicago/O'Hare, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/JFK, Portland, Salt Lake City, and Seattle-Tacoma; and to Delta passengers at Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York/La Guardia, Orlando, Portland, and Salt Lake City. The TSA plans to keep adding additional major cities and airlines.
Clearly, membership in PreCheck makes the most sense for frequent travelers. Global Entry requires a nonrefundable $100 fee, a personal interview, and collection of biometric information. And, at least for now, expedited screening is limited to a few airline/airport combinations.
But Global Entry has an additional advantage: It also permits expedited clearances for incoming international travelers. If you'd like to enroll, check the Global Entry website for more information.
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