TSA 'PreCheck' expected to expand rapidly

A new pilot program to let travelers pay a fee to use faster airport screening lines is expected to draw more than 88,000 travelers in the first six months.

The Transportation Security Administration made the estimate as it prepares to expand the use of the "PreCheck" screening lines, which are available at 40 airports across the country.

Travelers who go through the PreCheck lines can avoid some typical usual screening procedures, such as removing shoes, belts and coats, and taking laptop computers out of cases.

Until now, PreCheck was only offered to members of certain airport loyalty programs and trusted traveler programs run by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Starting later this year, the TSA will allow all travelers who pay an $85 fee and submit background information, including fingerprints, to qualify for the program for five years.

In a report this week, the TSA estimated that 88,111 travelers would apply for the program in the first six months, with an additional 383,131 fliers applying in the following year.

The vetting process will take two to three weeks, the TSA said. "The TSA PreCheck Trusted Traveler Program will enhance aviation security by permitting TSA to better focus its limited security resources on passengers who are more likely to pose a threat to civil aviation," the report said.

To apply, passengers can send background information online via a secure Web portal and submit fingerprints and other biometric data in person at an enrollment center. The first two enrollment centers, at Washington Dulles International Airport and Indianapolis International Airport, will open this fall with plans to expand to additional enrollment sites nationwide.

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