TSA Begins Testing New "Faster, Easier" Security Lines

Are you one of the lucky travelers testing the new TSA “PreCheck” program at your airport today? If so, you’re in a select group of flyers who voluntarily provided personal information in exchange for what is hoped will be a quicker experience through the security checkpoint.

See video of FareCompare’s Rick Seaney getting a fairly embarrassing “enhanced pat-down”

How the New TSA Program Works

This is the latest effort by the government to try and solve the problem of security on planes by minimizing flight risks while avoiding some security excesses like pat-downs of young children and the elderly, excesses critics call nothing but “theater”.

The PreCheck program is currently being tested at the airports in Atlanta, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Detroit and Miami. Here’s how it works:

  • Volunteers are enrolled in Delta’s or American’s frequent flier program (SkyMiles/AAdvantage) or one of three government programs called Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI
  • These flyers must be regular travelers through one of the four airports
  • More personal information and/or personal travel plans must be revealed to the government
  • These travelers may be ushered into special lanes for expedited screening

Pro’s and Con’s for Passengers

There is no guarantee what screening measure these volunteers will undergo or avoid; the TSA will not say. As far as the agency is concerned (according to the Associated Press), “No one is guaranteed a quicker screening” and unpredictable security measures will still be used at random.

Obviously, a lot of questions remain, but one group that’s sold on the concept is the U.S. Travel Association, which hails this as a critical first step to a “low hassle” security experience, while admitting that there’s a long way to go.

Your Own Personal Security Hassles

Are you in this new program or stuck in a conventional slow line? Tell us if you think PreCheck will work or if it’s time to go back to the drawing board.


Published: October 4, 2011