We’ve been writing for quite some time about the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck (or as the TSA obnoxiously insists on writing, “Pre✓™”) program, which allows vetted travelers to go through an airport security screening process. To enroll, consumers need to be a member of certain airlines’ frequent flier programs or already part of other trusted-traveler services, but starting this fall, the TSA will open up online enrollment in PreCheck… with one major catch.
The TSA announced today that travelers will soon be able to go online and begin the process, which charges a fee of $85 for a five-year membership in the program, but in order to finish up, they will need to visit certain airports in order to provide fingerprints and show their ID.
Unfortunately, that list of airports is going to be small at first. Though PreCheck screening is currently available at 40 airports in the U.S., only Washington Dulles and Indianapolis International are initially going to offer the in-person portion of the expanded PreCheck enrollment process. The agency says it plans on adding more airport enrollment sites, but doesn’t give a time frame or indicate which airports might be considered.
“This initiative will increase the number of U.S. citizens eligible to receive expedited screening, through TSA Pre✓™,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole, though we assume he actually pronounced it “PreCheck” and did not say “Pre [clicking sound] TM.”
For those unfamiliar with PreCheck, members don’t have to remove their shoes or belts, and might even get to keep things like sweatshirts and blazers on. They also don’t have to take laptops out of their bags.
That said, TSA reminds PreCheck members that they, like all travelers, are still subject to random standard screenings, ya know… just to keep everyone honest. Also, if an airport doesn’t have a dedicated PreCheck lane, members get to go through the whole drawn-out process with the rest of us.