The TSA's Latest Move to Make Airport Security Less Annoying

Starting next month, you may be able to get through airport security a bit faster—and with less disrobing. The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its PreCheck security program to more travelers, chosen at random. The program is now used at 40 airports and allows fliers who are considered low-security risks—the TSA won’t say how it makes that determination—to move through screening without doffing shoes and belts, and keeping laptop computers stowed.

The TSA plans to begin randomly assigning travelers into the PreCheck program when they check in for a flight, assigning the quicker access with a notice on the boarding pass. No new passenger data will be needed—and TSA officials emphasize that there’s no form of request or lobbying a traveler can do to be chosen for the quicker line. The TSA wants to migrate about 25 percent of the travelers it screens each day—about 450,000 people—into the PreCheck lines to improve efficiency.

The expansion is expected to begin around Oct. 10, before the rush of Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday travel. The agency plans to expand its PreCheck capability to 100 U.S. airports by yearend, and triple that number by the end of 2014. “As TSA continues to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to transportation security, we are looking for more opportunities to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way possible,” the agency’s administrator, John Pistole, said in a Sept. 4 news release announcing the airport expansion.

Federal officials also offer paid access to quicker screening lines via a $100 Global Entry security clearance and an $85 domestic PreCheck program. Both require applicants to submit their fingerprints and have a brief interview, and are good for five years.

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