Remember when you didn’t have to take your laptop out of its case, pull off your shoes and belt, and stand in line with grumpy passengers to board an airplane?You can relive those days for less than $20 a year by enrolling in the Pre-Check program of the Transportation Security Administration.The TSA has made enrolling even easier by opening a Pre-Check center in mid-April at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport’s Terminal D, between Gates D22 and D23. In just three weeks, the center enrolled 944 people, said Carrie Harmon, a TSA spokeswoman.Pre-Check allows you to enter a faster line at most major airports, and you do not have to take off your shoes and your laptop and liquids can stay secure in your bags. At DFW, Pre-Check lanes are available at eight checkpoints in Terminals A,C, D and E.“DFW’s new TSA Pre-Check application center will enable many more local travelers to apply for expedited screening benefits,” TSA Administrator John Pistole said in a statement. “TSA Pre-Check is enabling us to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to transportation security, as we look for more opportunities to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way.”Pistole said his goal is to move half of airline passengers through the expedited screening lines, which can also be used by military and airline personnel, by the end of the year.The cost for the program is a one-time fee of $85, which covers enrollment for five years.Pre-Check started as a pilot program at DFW and several other airports in 2011. But the only people allowed to enroll were frequent-flier members invited by participating airlines or those who had also signed up through U.S. customs’ Global Entry or other programs, which required a passport.The fast-lane program has proved popular: Since it began, 55 million passengers have gone through the Pre-Check lanes.In December, Pre-Check opened to public enrollment, Harmon said. Besides the processing center at DFW, the TSA is adding more than 300 application centers across the country. Nationwide, more than 221,000 have enrolled through the centers. The number of Pre-Check lanes also continues to grow, with a presence at 118 U.S. airports. All the nation’s major airports, from LaGuardia in New York to Los Angeles International, have Pre-Check lanes.Pre-Check requires not only passenger enrollment but also participation by the airline. Ten carriers are signed up for the program: Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America. So if you fly with an airline not named here, such as Spirit, you can’t use the program, even if you are enrolled. Last week, Air Canada became the first international carrier to participate in the program. The TSA said more international involvement will follow.The TSA allows kids 12 and under to go with adults who have TSA Pre-Check. Children with passports can enroll, although adults do not need a passport for this program. Older kids without passports must wait until they have a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license, to sign up for Pre-Check. So whether you’re a frequent flier or you’re just booking flights for your family vacation, consider enrolling in the faster security lane with Pre-Check.
Teresa McUsic’s column appears Saturdays. TMcUsic@SavvyConsumer.net