It's been a busy few weeks behind the scenes here at Vacationkids. Our staff has been flying all over the place updating our training so that we can bring you all the latest and greatest first hand news.
One of the latest things we've experienced is the new TSA Pre Check Program. This new program is designed to improve airport security and explanding to airports around the country.
Airline passengers have long complained about the hassles and invasiveness of airport security. Finally the government is looking to evolve it's airport security procedures. TSA Pre✓™ is a new system that allows select frequent flyers of participating airlines to receive expedited screening benefits. Eligible participants use dedicated screening lanes for screening benefits which include leaving on shoes, light outerwear and belts, as well as leaving laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids in carry-on bags.
I noticed the green TSA Pre✓ logo atop my boarding passes for my recent flights to California. Up until now participation for this program has been random. Passengers who are members of frequent flyer programs of Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America have simply been invited to try this new system.
When I arrived at security check in at Philadelphia airport I presented my boarding pass along with my photo driver's license as usual. I was then escorted by a TSA agent to the front of the line and I placed my carry on bag and purse onto the Xray belt. I did not have to remove my shoes, jacket or empty my pockets. I did not have to take my laptop or 3-1-1 liquids out of my suitcase. The TSA agent then escorted my around the body scanner to where I was reunited with my luggage. The process was the same when I flew home from John Wayne/Orange county airport in California... Easy Peasy!
This new is currently available at 40 major U.S. airports. It was just announced that the program will expand to 60 additional airports by the end of 2013 bringing the total to 100 airports offering this new service to passengers.
As mentioned, this program has been offered on a random basis to specific passengers who were invited to participate by their airline. Once the passenger opts-in, the airline identifies the individual as a TSA Pre✓™ participant of the program.
Soon travelers will be able to "apply" to this program. To participate, you must fill out an application and pay an $85 fee that will supposedly be good for up to 5 years. Approved applicants will be issued a ‘Known Traveler Number’ to be used when booking their flight reservations. This will allow passengers to bypass typical TSA screening and avoid long lines. Minor children in the company of parents or guardians who have a Known Traveler Number will also be allowed to use the system.
This program will no doubt be welcomed by frequent business flyers. Vacationing parents who fly maybe once a year may prefer to wait in line and save the $170 it would cost them. Parents with infants and toddlers may appreciate the convenience and elect to participate. Only time will tell how well this program will work, how well it will be received by passengers and how safe it ultimately keeps us during our travels.