Did you know that at select airports in the US when flying American or Delta you can keep your shoes on and liquids and laptops in your bag?  I recently had the opportunity to take advantage of these benefits in Atlanta (ATL) and Las Vegas (LAS).

In Vegas I was pleasantly surprised when the TSA agent handling the Sky Priority lane scanned my boarding pass and then directed me to the TSA Pre? lane, away from the 40+ people in the normal priority line.  A lane that included two extremely friendly TSA agents, NO other passengers, and NO full body scanning. Only a few days earlier I had flown from Tallin, Estonia, where I had been working, directly to Vegas via Amsterdam and Los Angeles for a friend’s bachelor party.  My carry-ons included both my work and personal laptops and several liquids, yet I cleared security in less than 30 seconds and even got to keep my belt and jacket on.  It was one of the best security screening experiences I’ve had outside of some extremely lax foreign countries where setting off the detectors seems to indicate you’re clear to board…

How does the program work you ask?

According to the TSA website:

Certain frequent flyers from Delta and American Airlines and certain members of Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS, who are U.S. citizens, are eligible to participate in this program, which could qualify them for expedited screening at select checkpoints with the following airlines:

American Airlines – Dallas/Fort Worth International, Las Vegas’ McCarran International, John F. Kennedy International, Los Angeles International, Miami International and Minneapolis-St. Paul International airports

Delta Air Lines – Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, LaGuardia Airport, Las Vegas’ McCarran, Minneapolis-St. Paul International and Salt Lake City International airports

How do you become one of the selected frequent fliers?

Delta

According to the Delta, several of their top tier U.S. citizen frequent fliers, Platinum and Diamond, were sent emails months ago with a link to opt-in for the TSA Pre? screening.  I can’t remember if I responded to the offer or not.  However, as per Delta’s website, you can log into your SkyMiles profile and store your Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) for future use and opt in to be considered for TSA’s Pre-check expedited screening program.  I took a look at my profile and it appears that my SFPD is stored and I’m opted into the program.  For those worried about storing personal information, the SFPD currently only includes your full name and date of birth as well as the sharing of your itinerary with the TSA Pre?.  The Delta agent I spoke with indicated that regardless of Platinum or Diamond status, if you are a SkyMiles member, opt-in to the program, and pre-enter your SFPD data at least 72 hours prior to your flight, you may be selected for the pre-screen.

American

As per American’s website:

Who Is Eligible

You can participate in the TSA expedited screening trial if you are a U.S. citizen and meet one or both of the TSA’s current eligibility criteria:

  • You are an AAdvantage® program member who is determined eligible by the TSA and received an opt-in invitation email from AAdvantage
  • You are an existing member of a CBP Trusted Traveler program, including Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS

How It Works

By opting in, you are automatically entered in the trial program. By doing so, you give American Airlines permission to share the following with the TSA Secure Flight System:

  • Your AAdvantage Program tier status and /or U.S. CBP Trusted Traveler Program information
  • Your passenger reservation information

Once the TSA determines that a passenger is eligible for expedited screening, information is embedded in the barcode of the passenger’s boarding pass. The TSA reads the barcode at designated TSA airport locations and eligible passengers may be directed to a lane where they will receive expedited screening.

How Can I Become A Participant?

If you’re an AAdvantage program member:

  • Go to AA.com, select My Account and log in
  • Within My Account, go to the Personal Information and Password tab
  • If you are eligible to participate in the program, you will see an opt-in field for the TSA Expedited Screening Program
  • To opt-in, simply check the box

Eligible AAdvantage members may also opt-in by calling AAdvantage Customer Service.

Global Entry
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers (US citizens and permanent residents) upon arrival in the U.S. Though intended for frequent international travelers, there is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify for the program. Participants may enter the United States by using automated kiosks located at select airports.  The application fee is $100 whether you are approved or not.  If you are approved you are also qualified for TSA Pre? regardless of your status with Delta or AA.  Just remember to indicate this in your frequent flier profile with either airline.

The most important caveat

Qualifying using any of the methods above only gives you the OPPORTUNITY to be selected for TSA Pre?. For obvious security reasons the program must remain random.   However, I’ve now been selected both times I passed through Atlanta and my one time in Las Vegas.  I’ll respond back with my LaGuardia experience later this week.

What if the other members of my party aren’t included

At ATL I saw a wife ask the TSA agent if she could take the carry-on bags from her husband and child.  She was allowed and thye proceeded through the normal security check with no bags at all.  Meanwhile the TSA agent placed all of the family’s bags directly through the TSA Pre? x-ray machine without removing any contents.

But I don’t fly AA or DL or travel into the airports above

Already live at:

  • Atlanta (ATL): T-South Checkpoint (Delta only)
  • Chicago (ORD): Terminal 3, Checkpoint 8 (American only)
  • Dallas (DFW): Terminal C, Checkpoint C30 (American only)
  • Detroit (DTW): Checkpoint 2 on the ticketing level (Delta only)
  • John F. Kennedy (JFK): Terminal 8 Main Checkpoint (American only)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA): Delta Main Checkpoint (Delta only)
  • Las Vegas (LAS): D Gates First Class Checkpoint (American and Delta)
  • Los Angeles (LAX): TSA Pre? screening lane (American only)
  • Miami (MIA): D2 Checkpoint (American only)
  • Minneapolis (MSP): Lindbergh Terminal, Checkpoint 4 (American and Delta)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC): Terminal 2 Checkpoint (Delta only)
  • Washington D.C. (DCA): Terminal B, South Checkpoint for gates 10-22 (Delta and Active Duty U.S. Military only)

No word yet on what other airlines will be included in the trail.  However, there will be a significant increase in the cities with Pre?. In 2012, according to the TSA website, TSA plans to expand TSA Pre? for eligible passengers flying on participating airlines at the following airport locations:

  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
  • Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
  • Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL)
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
  • Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
  • Portland International Airport (PDX)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA)
  • Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

The TSA has a good Q&A section at http://www.tsa.gov/what_we_do/faqs.shtm

Have you used the program?  What do you think?  Was your experience as easy as mine?

Posted by Adam | 5 Comments

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