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TSA starts PreCheck, faster airport screening for qualified travelers

If you’re strictly a domestic traveler and want to speed through airport security, the Transportation Security Administration on Wednesday will begin offering you a chance to join its PreCheck program.

A center that will administer the TSA program is to open in Los Angeles by the end of the year, although it is not yet known where that will be.

Previously, PreCheck was available to elite frequent fliers by invitation of the airline with which they had elite status or through Global Entry, a government program that allows expedited entry back into the country as well as faster airport screening.

Global Entry, administered by Customs and Border Protection, costs $100 (nonrefundable even if you’re denied access to the program) and is good for five years. The TSA’s PreCheck program piggybacked onto Global Entry program.

But beginning Wednesday, travelers who don’t want or need that reentry perk can apply to TSA for the chance to go through security without removing shoes, belts or jackets. They also will be allowed to keep their liquids and laptops in their bags.

To apply, travelers may visit an application center (the first one is in Indianapolis) or begin the process by applying online. They must submit to a background check. The cost is $85 for five years and unlike Global Entry, you do not need a passport to qualify.

You do need to be an upstanding citizen. The list of crimes for which you may be disqualified, according to the TSA page outlining them, includes convictions for murder, terrorism, treason and sedition. You also probably will be denied access into the program if you’ve been convicted (or found not guilty by reason of insanity) in the last seven years of bribery, rape, assault, kidnapping and other crimes.

If you are approved for the program — that is, you are granted a Known Traveler Number (KTN) — you will no longer have to remove your shoes, jacket or belt, and you may keep your liquids and your laptop in your carry-on luggage.

The PreCheck program does not allow travelers to skip security; they still will need to submit to a scanner, and their hand luggage will be screened as well. The list of items that cannot be carried on a plane is still in effect.

Other enrollment centers also are to be added in New York City and Washington, D.C.,  by the end of the year.

Not every airport has PreCheck. Of the 450 or so commercial U.S. airports, 102 have the PreCheck program.

To learn more, go to the TSA’s PreCheck page

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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