The Transportation Security Administration announced that it is considering a variety of options to attract more travelers to its PreCheck program, after falling short of the agency’s projections.
The PreCheck program charges enrollees $85 for five years, and expedites the screening process, allowing vetted travelers to keep on their shoes, coats, and belts; and leave laptops and eligible liquids in their bags.
The TSA and travel industry officials want more people in PreCheck because they are lower-risk travelers and the screening process is streamlined and generally quicker. "We want to get people into the program, and so, we'd like to make it easier,'' TSA Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell said in an interview with USA Today.
According to Cogswell, the agency is weighing several possibilities to make PreChecking more enticing to travelers, including memberships that don’t last five years; a subscription model that allows enrollees to pay the $85 fee in yearly installments; and on-site PreCheck enrollments at select airports.
"I think our perspective is very much, 'Let's look at a couple different options to see if they're feasible,' and if they're not, then at least we looked at it,'' said Cogswell.
Enrollment for PreChecking began back in 2013, and the TSA projected 5 million new enrollments a year. Currently, there are 8.54 million PreCheck members, compared with previous agency expectations that projected enrollment numbers as high as 25 million.
According to the Transportation Security Administration website, TSA PreCheck is available at more than 200 airports nationwide, and the vast majority of TSA PreCheck members get through security in five minutes or less — which could be a huge boon for frequent travelers or those who worry about missing flights because of the standard security screening times.
To apply for the TSA PreCheck program, enrollees must submit an online application and schedule an appointment at any of 380+ enrollment centers located around the country, where, after a 10 minute, in-person interview that includes a background check and fingerprinting, enrollees will receive a Known Traveler Number to their ticket and can enjoy shorter wait times for the security screening process.
Eligible veteran PreCheck
A recently introduced bipartisan bill may soon allow disabled veterans to bypass long airport security lines. The legislation would provide free TSA PreCheck privileges to veterans who are blind or paralyzed, as well as veteran amputees — a benefit already extended to active-duty service members and those in the National Guard and Reserves.
Under the legislation, the Department of Veterans Affairs would be required to certify that a veteran is eligible for the benefit. Veterans who successfully pass a background check and interview with TSA would be granted TSA PreCheck at no cost.
“Millions of veterans have sacrificed a great deal in service to our nation and returned home with service-connected disabilities," said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a former Army lieutenant colonel and Iraq veteran, in a news release. “For those of us who rely on prosthetics and wheelchairs for mobility, air travel and passing through airport security can be a challenge.”
Duckworth, who is a double amputee, co-sponsored the Veterans Expedited TSA Screening Safe Travel Act, and said the measure would make the airport experience “a little easier and less intrusive.”