PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – You’ve probably noticed the difference between the two lines at airport security. There’s one line that crawls and one where people casually walk through with little to no wait. The latter is TSA Pre-Check.
“You can leave a light jacket on, leave your belt on, leave your shoes on, leave your laptop in the bag and you can leave your liquids in the bag,” said TSA Spokesman Michael McCarthy.
McCarthy added that being able to leave items on and in bags makes it for a quicker trip through security. Even if the line grows for Pre-Check, it may still move faster than passengers who don’t have expedited screening.
The program started two years ago with three locations in Pittsburgh. McCarthy says at Pittsburgh International Airport there are about 40 applicants a day and not all of them are your typical travelers.
Paula Bonino hasn’t flown in 10 years. She and Fran Balog decided that because they fly so infrequently, Pre-Check would actually be easier and less stressful.
“All we had to do is show up with identification and pay for it and with an appointment, we were out pretty quickly,” said Balog.
The process is mostly done online. Passengers fill out an online application and then go to a Pre-Check location to show ID, confirm information and pay an $85 fee. Fingerprints are also taken and sent to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. The vetting process can take anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks.
A known traveler number is issued to passengers who pass clearances. That number is used every time a passenger books a flight.
“It’s worth it when you hear an hour-and-a-half, two hours waiting and people missing their flights, and with this it’s so much quicker,” said Bonino.
Pre-Check is good for five years before it needs to be renewed.
McCarthy says about there are about 10,000 applicants nationwide every week and as the program grows, it will be similar to how EZPass worked in its infancy. He says you’ll start to gradually see more lines for TSA Pre-Check and fewer lines for passengers who don’t have expedited screening.