Tens of thousands of hurried passengers trying to check in at some of the busiest U.S. airports could soon find themselves in the fast lane.
The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration are expanding their expedited screening initiative known as PreCheck to 28 additional airports this year, it was announced Wednesday. Seven airports across the country have already started the procedures, which allow travelers a faster screening process if they volunteer information about themselves prior to flying.
In making the announcement at a news conference at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Homeland Security officials said PreCheck will enable TSA to focus its efforts on passengers the agency knows less about in a more risk-based approach to screening.
If the TSA determines a passenger is eligible for expedited screening, "information will be embedded in the barcode of the passenger's boarding pass," according to the department.
Passengers who qualify may only rarely have to remove their shoes, jackets and belts, and extract laptops or liquids from bags.
"Good, thoughtful, sensible security by its very nature facilitates lawful travel and legitimate commerce," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. "The expansion of TSA PreCheck to the nation's busiest airports will increase our security capabilities and expedite the screening process for travelers we consider our trusted partners."
The "trusted traveler" program won't guarantee expedited security screening, officials say. Participants will still be subject to random and unpredictable security measures.
PreCheck will be implemented at the busiest U.S. airports throughout the year including, Baltimore/Washington, Boston Logan, Charlotte Douglas, Cincinnati, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, George Bush, Honolulu, Indianapolis, JFK, LaGuardia, Lambert-St. Louis, Louis Armstrong New Orleans, Luis Munoz Marin, Newark Liberty, O'Hare, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland, Ronald Reagan Washington National, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle-Tacoma, Tampa, Ted Stevens Anchorage and Washington Dulles.
The TSA says it will continue expanding to additional airlines and airports beyond those already announced.
Officials say more than 336,000 passengers have already been screened through PreCheck lanes affiliated with American Airlines in Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas and Minneapolis, and with Delta Air Lines in Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas and Minneapolis.
US Airways, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines will begin operations later this year.
"TSA PreCheck moves us closer to our goal of delivering the most effective and efficient screening by recognizing that most passengers do not pose a threat to security," said TSA Administrator John Pistole in a written statement. "We are pleased to expand this important effort, in collaboration with our airline and airport partners, as we move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more intelligence-driven, risk-based transportation security system."