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Is the airport security experience about to get easier?
The Transportation Security Administration hopes it will, at least for a small group of fliers.
The TSA is rolling out a new pilot program today aimed at speeding the screening process for known travelers.
It is called PreCheck and only available for now on a trial basis to a select group of frequent fliers from Delta Airlines and American Airlines. Members of the Customs and Border Patrol’s “Trusted Traveler” program will also be eligible.
Here’s how it works. Passengers will be asked by their airline if they want to “opt-in” to the program. Those who choose to do so will provide additional information about themselves. The TSA will use that information to determine if the passenger qualifies for expedited screening. If the passenger qualifies, he or she will be directed to a designated security lane at the airport. That expedited screening could mean leaving their shoes on for certain fliers.
TSA officials caution that PreCheck is in its infancy and only available at one check point in each of the four participating airports. And the agency maintains that expedited screening is by no means guaranteed and notes on its website, “Passengers are always subject to random, unpredictable screening measures.”
The program is now underway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, Miami International and Dallas-Fort Worth International airport’s. The Known Traveler program is part of a broader TSA effort to evolve its screening process.
TSA Administrator John Pistole has publicly stated he wants to move the agency away from a “one size fits all” approach to a more risk-based effort. In an interview with ABC News conducted in prior to the 9/11 anniversary last month, TSA’s Pistole touched on such new efforts while discussing the evolution of the terror threat against the United States.
“We are trying a number of new initiatives that will ask for the public’s patience as we try to improve the passenger experience, while providing the most effective security,” Pistole said.
“But we have to be mindful that there are terrorist(s) who are trying to kill us and we need to do the best possible job and provide the most effective security in the most efficient way.”