At long last the TSA is bringing its program to allow some passengers to avoid removing shoes, belts and coats and pulling liquids and laptops out of carry-ons, speeding passage through security checkpoints.
Starting today, TSA is bringing its PreCheck program to Logan International Airport. In February I wrote that the agency would be launching the program at Logan and 27 other major airports this year. So far PreCheck is in place at 15 US airports.
My pal Katie Johnston laid out the details in this morning's Globe.
PreCheck expedites the entire security process for selected passengers; that compares with paid services offered by private companies, which simply allow passengers who pay for the privilege to skip to the head of security lines, where they must then go through the customary screening. None of those private programs are currently in operation at Logan.
With PreCheck, prescreened passengers enter a separate security lane, then pass through metal detectors without needing to remove their shoes or pull out their shampoo and other liquids in plastic baggies. The selected passengers will also not be sent through body scanners, Naccara said, but that might change as new software is deployed that shows screeners a "Gumby-shaped" image of the passenger - rather than a more literal view of the human body - and cuts down the scanning time to a few seconds.
PreCheck does not guarantee each qualified passenger a trip through the expedited security process. For security purposes, individual travelers won't know whether they will be greenlighted for the expedited lane until they get to the security checkpoint before boarding a flight.
There is no charge for the PreCheck program, but currently, only passengers who are already members of the US Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler Programs, or select frequent fliers who have been screened by the TSA, are eligible. The Customs programs, which have 1.3 million members, charge between $50 and $122 every five years for faster entry into the United States. Members must undergo background checks, interviews, and provide fingerprints.
Select frequent fliers - generally, those who have flown more than 50,000 miles or have taken a certain number of trips - can also apply for the PreCheck program. Nationwide, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines are the only airlines participating so far; US Airways and United Airlines will be on board later this year. In Boston, where only Delta is participating so far, the airline is inviting an undisclosed number of frequent fliers to be part of the program, then providing information about those passengers to the TSA for further screening. The TSA will examine each individual's travel history and if it determines there is no threat, the individual will be granted PreCheck clearance.