Southwest joins TSA pre-check program, opens new security lane at BWI

Southwest Airlines has joined the Transportation Security Administration's PreCheck program, giving trusted fliers access to a quicker and less invasive path through security at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

The airline, which is BWI's largest carrier, has opened a PreCheck security lane at Concourse A, airport officials said Thursday.


The program allows registered passengers of participating airlines — Southwest makes eight — to move through security without taking off their shoes, belts or jackets, removing laptop computers from cases or removing bags of small liquids from carry-on luggage.

The new Southwest lane makes three at BWI. Last week, the airport opened an additional PreCheck lane for other participating airlines at Concourse C, and a PreCheck lane has existed at Concourse D since last year.


Customers in Southwest's Rapid Rewards program will be invited to join the program, Southwest said, and will have "TSA PRE" printed on their boarding passes.

Gary Kelley, Southwest's president and CEO, said in a statement that PreCheck saves customers time and enhances their experience, "something we are always striving to do at Southwest."

BWI is one of 100 airports participating in the program nationwide. More than 18 million passengers have used TSA PreCheck since its launch in October 2011, according to the TSA.

The lanes also are open to fliers who are members of other security programs under U.S. Customs and Border Protection or groups like the U.S. military.

Passengers who opt into the PreCheck program through their airline are not charged. The TSA is working to launch its own enrollment process, through which any U.S. citizen could apply for a five-year PreCheck status for $85. A similar Customs and Border Protection program costs $100 for five years.

Other participating airlines are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America. Passengers with AirTran, which has been acquired by Southwest, are not yet eligible for PreCheck.

PreCheck passengers remain subject to random security screenings at the airport.