Express security: Not just for frequent fliers anymore

Posted: March 01, 2014

Maybe you're not a frequent flier, but you'd still like to zip through airport security without removing your belt and shoes.

Now you can, after filling out an application, scheduling an appointment at a Transportation Security Administration application center, and paying $85. It's part of TSA's PreCheck program, which offers low-risk travelers access to speedier lines at 117 U.S. airports.

The TSA on Thursday opened an enrollment office at 3460 N. Delaware Ave., Suite 100, in Philadelphia, where travelers flying on major airlines can sign up and pay for expedited security service at the airport.

It's an expansion of the program in which airlines identify to the TSA their most elite frequent fliers who were deemed low security risks to go to the fast lane.

Now regular travelers, for a fee, can go through a background check, be fingerprinted, and get a "known traveler number" to use when booking air travel.

Currently, the TSA has 208 off-airport enrollment centers and 12 in U.S. airports, and by the spring there will be 300 nationwide, TSA spokesman Jim McKinney said.

Since December, 60,000 U.S. fliers have applied.

Enrolled travelers present their boarding pass and are directed to the expedited lanes, where they do not have to remove jackets or display permitted liquids or gels from their carry-on bags.

The other nearest enrollment centers in the three-state area are in Pittsburgh, Woodbury and Newark, N.J., and New Castle, Del.

Applicants can enroll online and make an appointment. At the center, they are fingerprinted and required to provide two forms of identification, such as a driver's license, birth certificate, or passport as documentation of citizenship.

The TSA vets each passenger, including a check against terrorist watch lists. Anyone who has been convicted of a serious crime, such as armed robbery, murder, arson, rape, kidnapping, racketeering, or felony drug charges, is not eligible.

Successful applicants will receive a "known traveler number" in the mail that is valid for five years. That number must be provided when booking travel on any of nine participating airlines: Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, United, US Airways, and Virgin America.

The TSA said expedited screening also applies to international flights departing the United States on participating carriers, if from an airport with the PreCheck program. It does not apply to foreign carriers.

Walk-ins at the Philadelphia center are welcome, or by appointment through tsa.gov or by calling 1-855-347-8371 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Tye Smart, 33, and Craig Connelly Sr., 40, of Northeast Philadelphia, came to the North Delaware Avenue center Thursday to apply for the expedited screening. They fly about 10 times a year and avoiding long lines "is well worth it," Smart said.


BY THE NUMBERS

$85

Fee for U.S. citizens to get expedited TSA clearance at designated

U.S. airports.

117

U.S. airports

that have the special TSA clearance lanes.

9

Airlines participating

in the TSA expedited clearance program.

60,000

U.S. fliers who have applied

for the program since December.


lloyd@phillynews.com

215-854-2831

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