If you have $85 to spare and can pass a background check, you'll soon have the option to breeze through security checkpoints on domestic flights. The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) revealed last week that it is planning to expand its PreCheck program later this year with an application process allowing all US citizens to seek entry to the program. It allows members to use expedited security checkpoints at 40 airports around the country, but the best part is that you don't have to take off your shoes, belt, or jacket, and you can leave your laptop and small liquid containers in your carry-on bag when passing through security checkpoints.
To gain entry to the program, you'll need to pass a background check and then go for an in-person interview — first available only at Washington Dulles International Airport and Indianapolis International Airport — where you'll have your fingerprints taken. If the TSA determines that it has "a high confidence that you are not a terrorist," as TSA administrator John Pistole said last week, you'll receive a PreCheck known traveler number that you'll give to your air carrier when you book a flight. The $85 fee covers membership for five years, at which time you'll need to reapply. Only Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, and Virgin America are currently part of the program, and you won't automatically gain access to expedited security check lines every time you fly.
"We can expedite your physical screen at the checkpoint because we have a high confidence that you are not a terrorist."
To date, the only way you could sign up for PreCheck was as part of acceptance to another trusted traveler program like Global Entry (which is for international travel and comes with a $100 fee) or you'd be offered entry from your airline's frequent flier program. According to CNN, the TSA plans to have 25 percent of domestic fliers registered by the end of this year. Will you be one of them?