Keep Your Shoes On, Please: TSA Rolling Out Speedy Security Pre-Screening Program

Maybe you’ll be taking your shoes off, but instead of placing them in a bin on a conveyor belt, you’ll be sitting around at home on the computer before heading to the airport. A test program the Transportation Security Administration has been working on called the PreCheck, which will allow passengers to speed through security is now expanding to 28 more airports.

The L.A. Times says the program allows passengers who sign up for the program and voluntarily offer background information to speed through security lines at the airport, while keeping on shoes, belts and coats.

A few airports have been testing the PreCheck system on 336,000 travelers over the last nine months, and it seems it performed well.

“We are pleased to expand this important effort, in collaboration with our airline and airport partners, as we move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more intelligence-driven, risk-based transportation security system,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole.

Here’s how it works: Passengers submit info at the TSA’s website and in turn, get an identification number. Then when booking a ticket online with airlines who are part of the program, you enter the ID number in its specified box on the screen. You won’t know if you’ve been approved until you reach the airport and a TSA officer scans your boarding pass. If you get the go-ahead, you’re off to the faster security line with all clothing accessories intact.

Major airports including John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia, Washington Dulles International, San Francisco and O’Hare International will start hosting the program this year. Let us know if you come across it and decide to try it out, or if you’ve already participated in it and have feedback to share.

As nice as this sounds in theory, I’m pretty sure I’d still get stuck behind the lady who is baffled that she can’t bring a gigantic bottle of hairspray through security and makes a big stink about demanding it be mailed to her destination. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

TSA expands program to speed travelers through airport screening [L.A. Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    The one and only possible development regarding the TSA that could ever happen that this country could be proud of would be the government disbanding the whole charade.

  2. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    “Are you a terrorist?” Y [_] / N [_]
    “Do you like being in plane crashes?” Y [_] / N [_]
    “Do you want to safely reach your destination? Y [_] / N [_]

    yeah, this’ll work.

  3. NeverLetMeDown says:

    I used this in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago. Was great. Jacket stays on, shoes stay on, belt stays on, liquids stay in bag. A return to 9/10/01, and to sanity.

    Next rollout step should be: deploy for all passengers, everywhere. Now. Also, abandon the liquid restrictions while you’re at it.

    This should be the default. We’d be just as safe, at radically lower cost, plus our dignity.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Normalcy at the cost of presumption of guilt?

    • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

      Since you’ve used this, please share: what kind of “background information” is requested?

      • NeverLetMeDown says:

        No incremental background information. I’m already a member of Global Entry, which is the priority customs/immigration program, and that does require a background check (you get to use the kiosk at immigration, can save a huge amount of time). You can also get in by just being a status frequent flier with American, Delta, or United.

        • tooluser says:

          Thanks for not answering the question.

          • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

            Essentially he’s saying he doesn’t know because, as a Global Entry member, we’ve already answered the questions necessary for this specific screening program. I’d assume they’d be generally the same.

            For Global Entry, the questions were similar to those for a security clearance background investigation. Some of the ones I remember are:

            *Where’ve you traveled in the last 5 years and what was the purpose of the trip
            *Residences for the last 5 years
            *Employer’s name, address, and what you/your company do
            *Any foreign relatives with whom you have frequent-ish communication

  4. HSVhockey says:

    Eh, if this is anything like the Elite/Regular/Family security “lanes” when things get busy the TSA idiots will just start directing the Joneses and their 20 kids into the fast lane where now those TSA idiots will have to switch gears and start checking things normally.

  5. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Hmm…I’m tempted, especially since I have been trying to pack appropriately according to guidelines. At least I usually get through the shoeless security fairly quickly, unless the line is four miles long. I can do my part pretty fast now.

  6. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    Safe to assume you can boof again ?

  7. axolotl says:

    “You won’t know if you’ve been approved until you reach the airport and a TSA officer scans your boarding pass.”
    If you won’t know ahead of time, I guess you still have to get there just as early as you would anyway.
    Also, the TSA security person scanning tickets is generally at the point in the line that would be at least halfway, if not further. Meaning you still have to wait in line almost as long as everyone else. Right?
    Not having to strip to get on a plane would be nice though…

    • Psychicsword says:

      If enough people sign up for this program the not stripping thing will probably make the lines shorter.

  8. Netstar says:

    My wife and I used to fly often until the TSA took over and started playing security theater. Since then we both refuse to fly until they remove the TSA and their crooked employees. No gimmicky ID program that will get me to fly.

    • milkcake says:

      Wasn’t TSA always there? Also, we do need to check out every passenger otherwise airplanes are good target for terrorism. What do you suggest then? Every passenger has to be checked out.

      • who? says:

        We had airport security before. It was privately run, paid for by the airlines. I would argue that it was every bit as effective as the craziness we have now, and a hell of a lot cheaper.

        As far as having to check out each and every passenger, or else airlines are a good target for terrorism….do you really believe the stripping and fondling that we go through now is effective? Does patting down a 4 year old help? Or my wheelchair bound mom? I don’t. The TSA hasn’t stopped a single act of terrorism in the ten years since 9/11. The other passengers on the planes have stopped a couple of attempts, but the TSA hasn’t. The sole purpose of the TSA is to make the government *look* like it’s doing something to fight terrorism.

      • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

        As ‘who?’ said, there was private security screening of passengers for many years prior to the TSA. You set your carry-ons on the conveyor belt to be X-Rayed, you removed your belt and pocket change, then walked through the metal detector, collected your belongings and proceeded to the gate. 95% of the time, you cleared the security checkpoint in less than a minute, though there could be a bit of a line at peak travel times.

        If you set off the metal detector, you’d generally be told to double check your pockets and go through again, if it beeped again, they’d usually use the wand to check manually. Though they simply took my word for it when I said I was wearing a back brace on one occasion. If prohibited items (guns, pinking shears, knives over 3″, etc.) were detected, you could leave the checkpoint to put them in your vehicle, or in some cases even get them into your checked luggage, or you could let them be confiscated.

        Most of the time, anyone who could clear the checkpoint was allowed up to the gate, meaning family could see you off or meet you at the gate. This did have the drawback of the terminals teeming with Hare’ Krishnas and other groups seeking donations though.

        Then, as now, weapons, explosives, and such were commonly missed during the screening. Hijackings were somewhat common–in the 1970’s a hijacking occurred about once a week on average. Still compared to the overall number of flights occurring on a daily basis, the odds of being hijacked were slim. Even slimmer still were the odds that any violence would be carried out against passengers or flight crew. It was well-known that standard operating procedure was to always comply with hijackers’ demands. Usually, you ended up with an unscheduled stopover in Cuba before reaching your final destination.

        That, of course, led to the 9/11/01 attacks. Al Qaeda exploited that policy to commandeer aircraft with disastrous consequences. Two very effective changes took place as a result. Most importantly, passengers and flight crews would no longer passively comply with hijackers–without any need for policy changes as evidenced by those aboard United Flight 93 on that day. Second, the cockpit doors were reinforced and locked, effectively preventing any unauthorized persons from gaining control of a commercial aircraft.

        Most every other policy which has taken effect post 9/11 have been very expensive and laughably ineffective. Especially when maintenance, cleaning, and foodservice crews still have extensive access to aircraft by merely showing their ID badges as they drive onto the tarmac. Pilots are required to undergo the same screenings as passengers while skycaps and custodial crews whiz right past the checkpoint.

        We have spent billions trying to prevent the last attack or attempt from occurring again while ripping the Fourth Amendment to shreds. I would say it’s virtually impossible to successfully hijack a commercial airliner in the US today. However, the ban on liquids (and cupcakes), nude-o-scopes, freedom pats, no fly lists, and other measures other than the two mentioned earlier have not had any significant benefit. Nor does it take much imagination to exploit the unintended consequences of these measures. Suicide bomber in the screening line during the morning rush perhaps? How about anthrax (foot powder) in the shoe removal process?

        I believe we’d be at least as safe in the air if were returned to the procedures in effect on 09/10/01, keeping only the reinforced cockpit doors, the refusal to cooperate with hijackers, and perhaps having explosive-sniffing dogs patrolling the terminals, baggage areas, and aircraft before boarding begins.

      • bben says:

        I am old enough to remember going through an airport with no overt security at all. You could walk in, buy a ticket with cash and no ID. Proceed directly to the gate, and when your flight was called walk outside to board. They took your ticket at the top of the boarding stairs. Pilots regularly allowed passengers, especially children, into the cockpit. On many smaller planes, the only barrier between the passengers and the cockpit was a curtain.

        I actually feel LESS safe now because of all of the bogus security and security drama that has been stirred up.

        Yes, there were occasional hijackings. But nowhere near the one or two a week number that another poster claimed. more like one every other month or so. And the intent was not to kill anyone or blow anything up, but usually to get somewhere they couldn’t afford (buy a cheap ticket to a nearby city – demand to be taken to another country) – or defect to another country.
        There were actually more hijackers taking planes to get into the US – mostly from South American dictatorships (US news didn’t bother to report most of these), than nutjobs hijacking and demanding to be taken to Cuba. Because of the US airlines attitude of cooperate with the hijacker, there was no incentive on US flights for them not to hijack so people continued doing it.

        For the passengers and crew, it usually meant a delay and detour to someplace like Cuba before continuing on to their destination. For the hijacker, they were usually extradited to the country of origin where they served a few years in jail.

        In my opinion – Best case for current security – do away with TSA. I’ll feel just as safe and probably fly more often. If you feel we ‘MUST’ do something (paranoia much?), adopt the Israeli system it actually seems to work.

        • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

          From Wikipedia (I know, standard disclaimers):

          The number dropped to 38 in 1968, but grew to 82 in 1969, the largest number in a single year in the history of civil aviation; in January 1969 alone, eight airliners were hijacked to Cuba. Between 1968 and 1977, the annual average jumped to 41.

          With 52 weeks in a year, and 41 hijackings on average, and a peak of 82; I think my over-simplification of about once a week to still be reasonably accurate.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      If you are flying internationally and you live near the Canadian border you can fly out of Canada and you won’t have to deal with any of this. I live near the border, and a ton of people who are flying international choose to fly out of Canada and return to Canada to avoid the TSA. You already have a passport if you are flying international so why not. Yes you will have to go through Customs, but no TSA!

      • huadpe says:

        Really? I have dealt with CATSA and their security procedures are basically the same as TSA. They have the full body scanners (albiet they don’t use them as much), they have patdowns, they make you take off your shoes, belt, and everything else basically. Maybe that’s only for flights bound to the US, but still.

        • Rachacha says:

          The US and Canada have a program where Canadian officials will follow the US security practices for flights bound for the US. They also have CBP agents who take care of all the customs screening in Canada before you return to the US, so you do not have to land and go through US immigration. I have never flown out of Canada for another international destination so I can’t say if their security screening is less burdensome than the US.

  9. maxamus2 says:

    This whole security theater just amazes me.

    We have over 10,000,000 illegal people in this country, most of all who either walked or drove right across the border. Daily, tens of thousands of illegals go back and forth over the border. Daily we have tons upon tons of illegal drugs coming in to the country, as well as countless weapons (coming and going) and on and on and on.

    Yet if I take 3.1 ounces of shampoo on the plane they think I’m a terrorist.

    • RandomMutterings says:

      + 10000

    • The Lone Gunman says:

      You win the Internet Rational Person Award (IRPA).

    • eturowski says:

      Technically, you are allowed 3.4 oz (100 mL), but most TSA employees suck at math.

      I agree with you, though! :::thumbs up:::

    • Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

      Well said.

    • lihtox says:

      The TSA has nothing to do with illegal immigrants or smuggling; their mission is to keep people from hijacking airplanes. If you’re going to criticize an organization, criticize them for the job they are actually doing, not something else entirely.

      C’mon, they’re an easy target! Do it right! :P

  10. KTK1990 says:

    It would be awesome if you could opt in after you bought your tickets. I already bought one for a flight soon about 3 weeks ago.

  11. The Lone Gunman says:

    If it’s anything like Global Entry you won’t get it if you have any criminal record. Buddy had a misdemeanor 36 years ago (and has been squeaky-clean ever since) but could not get into the program because of it.

  12. comatose says:

    The only problem I have with this is: “Papers please” You now need to have a background check to use a common everyday thing. It’s like a national ID that many are against..almost.

  13. Bodger says:

    Does this mean I won’t be allowed to join the group grope?

  14. Rocket says:
  15. RiverStyX says:

    “A few airports have been testing the PreCheck system on 336,000 travelers over the last nine months, and it seems it performed well.”

    This wouldn’t happen to be the same woman that also said “The system worked”, would it? There’s just so many euphemisms, its sickening. Look at them..”Intelligence-driven, risk-based transportation security system”. This is just in order to give the illusion that they’ve finally grown a braincell and know how to use it. And “Speedy Pre-Screening”? Sounds like a system where they just don’t ever change their gloves or give lunch breaks to their drones.

    You can count on the TSA to fuck this idea up, and as usual I’ll be here to point and laugh when they do.

  16. EllenRose says:

    Let me see. I can log into the TSA computer with my forged photo ID and credit card. The ID and card haven’t been around long enough to gather a criminal record. I tell the computer a nice bunch of lies, they approve me, and then I can blow up over the Atlantic — or in the TSA line, if they decided I needed a random check.

    It’s hardly worth the effort to get the false ID. Blowing up in the airport would work just as well. But I guess there’s more glory over the Atlantic.

    Mind you, TSA — if you are reading this (like you did for those poor Brits a week or so back) I am JOKING.

    • Arctic Snowbot says:

      Wrong move. Nice knowin’ ya!

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I wonder what would stop a terrorist from stealing the identity of a “clean” citizen – no criminal record, just a regular joe, and using their identity to sign up, buy a ticket, and get on a plane?

      By the time the identity theft victim knew what had happened, the terrorist might have already killed or wounded someone.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      You do realize of course that these people still have to go through security, right? It’s not like they’ll just bypass the whole thing. They just get to skip a few of the more ridiculous steps, which is what makes this a joke.

  17. TimelessFinanceCom says:

    Step 1 – lock the cockpit doors
    Step 2 ???
    Step 3 – no 9/11

    • jeblis says:

      Exactly. There are only two things stopping a hijacking now. A locked cockpit door that they won’t open. And passengers that will attack a threat back.

  18. jeblis says:

    Of course it works well. The TSA has never stopped a viable threat and it’s not like they’d know if they missed something here.

  19. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    Sooner rather than later they’ll just issue a special ID to these citizens. Everyone else will not be able to do anything, let alone fly, without first showing their “papers.”

    This is how freedom dies.

  20. pamelad says:

    Ohhhh ugggh. I hate taking off my shoes and walking through other people’s foot sweat on the cold damp floor of the airport. Was willing to sign up for this because I have no background security concerns. I hate putting my purse in the bins where other people put their shoes. I hate putting my jacket in the same bins, then having to wear it in flight. But it’s confusing and I’m probably not eligible, not sure why, probably because I fly out out a smaller airport.

    Thanks, TSA, for making us safer and more knowledgeable.

    I know there are a lot of hard-working folks who work for the TSA and just have to take orders, but from the top, it’s fake security. I mean, 3.5 oz. of fluid in exactly a one-gallon plastic bag? 1/4″ flip flops with no socks? What kind of security threats are these?

  21. rockelscorcho says:

    I still hate flying because of the TSA. That is actually a very stupid statement. I would rather drive or NOT fly because of a 10 minute delay and invasion of my physical space and body. That’s how much I hate the TSA. Additionally, only the TSA can drive my blood pressure from cool and calm to complete rage! And I work with high schoolers!

    TSA doesn’t need a slow death, just put it down.

    • thiazzi says:

      Totally agreed. Had to fly last summer and I was anxious three weeks in advance. I hate being rushed more than anything, and that’s all you get at the airport. It doesn’t help that I have to lay out $1000 worth of computer equipment on a belt and hope that I get there before everyone else to reclaim it. ARG!

  22. damicatz says:

    This is unconstitutional.

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the *EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAWS*.

    You can’t exempt one class of people from having to go through legally mandated screenings and not exempt everyone.

  23. Fisher1949 says:

    Not satisfied to strip search and grope passengers, TSA wants us to pay a fee and trust with our financial information even though they have already lost personal information of their employees and accidentally published sensitive procedures.

    This program favors those spending more money and amounts to a form of extortion. Maybe TSA just thinks some people are “more equal” than others, no civil rights implications there.

    This program is evidence that the TSA security theater is unnecessary harassment of passengers and Congress must demand that TSA adopt sensible and respectful procedures for everyone, not just select groups of passengers.

    TSA needs to be replaced with something that actually works.

    TSA Crimes & Abuses

  24. shamowfski says:

    I’m sure the TSA will be as good at protecting my personal information (in their “are you a terrorist” database) as it is protecting the friendly skies from lactating moms and stupid teenage girls with guns on their shirts.

  25. theblackdog says:

    Clearly no one has RTFA about this program:

    You have to be a frequent flyer on AA or Delta, or already be registered with another traveler pre-screening program such as Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST, or FLUX. The TSA claims it will offer it to other airline frequent flyer programs in the future, but that remains to be seen.

  26. Onesnap says:

    Some of us have to fly for work. I just hate being in line with folks that have not flown in a while. Yes, you have to take your jacket/hoodie/belt/shoes off. And for us women, the naked scan goes a lot smoother without underwire bras. That is all.