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As Airport Security 'Precheck' Plans Grow, Lines Could Shrink

7:27 AM, Sep 21, 2012   |    comments
(AP)
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(USA TODAY) -- More fliers will soon find relief from the hassles at airport security lines.

The Transportation Security Administration's "precheck" program that lets passengers keep their shoes and belts on through security has expanded to 26 airports in its first year and will continue to grow.

Since it was launched in October 2011, 2.7 million passengers have been screened though a dedicated precheck security lane, says TSA spokesman David Castelveter.

The TSA expects 35 airports to have precheck by the end of 2012. Since last week, it has expanded to Newark's Liberty International and Philadelphia International. Next week, Washington Dulles International will open a dedicated precheck.

U.S. citizens traveling domestically who are select Alaska, American, Delta, United and US Airways frequent fliers or members of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler program are eligible.

"Clearly we expect to broaden the array of carriers involved with the program," Castelveter says.

The free program can reduce aggravation and delays in security lines. Precheck passengers don't have to remove clothing and can keep their laptops and liquids in their carry-ons.

Participating airlines would not disclose how many fliers enrolled but say the program has gained traction.

United said this week that it would offer precheck at two more hubs, Newark and Dulles, for a total of five. "We're excited that it's now reaching critical mass," says Alex Marren, senior vice president of network operations and United Express for United. "Everyone has recognized that the security screening process has become time-consuming and comes across as a pain point."

Marren says precheck fliers get through security 2 1/2 times faster.

Nancy Lowe, a frequent business traveler from Seattle, was invited by Alaska Airlines to become a precheck member.

"It brings me back to the good old days of flying," she says.


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