The U.S. Transportation Security Administration, vowing to make airport security checks faster and less intrusive for lowest-risk passengers, made airlines an early partner in its trusted-traveler program known as PreCheck.
It’s an arrangement with a catch, one that’s limited how many people can use the program and how often those selected can breeze through checks with shoes and belts on. The 1 million PreCheck screenings a month the TSA projects for next year probably will be about 2 percent of U.S. passengers, far from the 50 percent to 75 percent that agency officials say they want to move into the speedier lines.
TSA has relied on airlines to nominate PreCheck candidates from among their best customers. Because not all airlines participate, and some consider frequent-flier information secret, a passenger qualifying under one airline can’t use PreCheck if flying another carrier. Agency officials said they don’t have the technical capability now to create a clearinghouse that might resolve the roadblock.
“The system should be based on risk and efficiency, not customer loyalty,” said Geoff Freeman, executive vice president at the U.S. Travel Association, a Washington-based trade group whose members include hotels, cruise lines and tour operators. “TSA has made their bed with the airlines.”