If you want to get through airport security quicker without taking off your shoes and jackets and dumping your laptop into a bin, the Transportation Security Agency has a solution for you.
Beginning Oct. 1, it will install its TSA PreCheck expedited screening program at 60 U.S. airports, including Kansas City International Airport.
The program has been tested at 40 other airports across the country, including Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
The TSA was started after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But it has faced a constant stream of criticism for the inconvenience it puts travelers through, and its occasionally intrusive or heavy-handed searches of random fliers.
“As TSA continues to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to transportation security, we are looking for more opportunities to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way possible,” John Pistole, TSA administrator, said this week in announcing the expansion of its precheck program.
Expedited screening allows passengers who qualify to avoid removing shoes, belt and light outerwear such as a jacket. Laptops don’t have to be removed from the bag and the required quart-sized plastic bag for gels, liquids and aerosols doesn’t have to be taken out of carry-on luggage.
The effort at KCI will be limited, at least at first, to gates in Terminal B, which is used by Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines. Delta will start the program in October and Southwest in November.
Joe McBride, a spokesman for the Kansas City Aviation Department, said that the TSA announcement was good news for travelers flying out of Southwest and Delta gates, but it hadn’t been decided if the expedited checking would be expanded to the airport’s other gates.
“TSA has worked hard to develop an approach that eases the security burden for some of KCI’s outbound travelers,” he said. “Unfortunately, KCI’s three terminal configuration and narrow concourses does not allow for TSA PreCheck across all terminals at this time.”
Travelers can currently get into the program if they are a U.S. citizen, are a member of a frequent-flyer program and are invited by a participating airline. Citizens who are members of a Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler program can also join.
Besides expanding the current program to the 60 additional airports, the TSA later this year will make the program available to travelers willing to fill out an online application, pay an $85 fee for five-year eligibility, and then verify identity and provide fingerprints at a TSA PreCheck enrollment center. The first two centers will be in Washington, D.C., and Indianapolis, but more will be added.
Those who qualify under a PreCheck program get a “known traveler number,” which can be used each time a reservation is made. The program significantly shortens the security process by providing an embedded barcode in boarding passes. When the pass is scanned at a checkpoint, a passenger may then be referred to a TSA PreCheck lane.
Some participating airlines already print a TSA PreCheck indicator on boarding passes so passengers will know in advance they have been cleared for expedited screening.
TSA said it will continue random and unpredictable security measures and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening. The program is now used by 15 million people, mainly business travelers.
Passengers 12 and under are allowed through TSA PreCheck with eligible passengers.
Travelers can find more information at TSA.gov/TSA-Precheck.
Star news services contributed to this report.