The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is expanding its PreCheck Expedited Screening programme to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Salt Lake City International Airport. This will allow some passengers flying out of the airports to keep their shoes and belts on as they pass through checkpoints. They will also be permitted to keep their laptops in their cases and even carry a full shampoo bottle onto a flight.
The TSA announced on Tuesday that the new pilot scheme will be started at these airports sometime early this year. The voluntary programme is aimed as speeding up the airport screening process. JFK and Salt Lake City International are joining a group of five other airports throughout the country that currently participate in the pilot, which has screened more than 200,000 passengers since being launched in October. These airports include Las Vegas McCarran International, Miami International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Dallas/Fort Worth International and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne Country International.
PreCheck passengers apply to be part of the scheme, which conducts detailed background checks. After passing, the travellers’ boarding passes are encoded with information so that security personnel can direct them to special screening lanes, in which they are exempt from some security procedures. The programme is open to some fliers who are part of the American Airlines and Delta Air Lines frequent flier schemes, as well as some members of the federal Customs and Border Protection agency’s Trusted Traveler programmes.
Speaking about the pilot being tested at JFK, TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein says the scheme will be adopted within the first few months of the year, but a date has yet to be set. The programme is being used at five other airports. The scheme hasn’t been scheduled for testing at New York’s LaGuardia airport or at Newark Liberty in New Jersey.
TSA public affairs officer Lorie Dankers says that the pilot will help them understand what steps to take next. They are considering more measures that could allow passengers to volunteer information about themselves before flying so they can expedite the security process for everyone. The agency will incorporate random procedures across an airport, while expedited screening isn’t guarantee for everyone. Their multi-layered security approach includes federal air marshals, explosive-detection systems, behaviour detection officers, canine teams and other measures.
Dankers added that the TSA aims to expand the scheme to more airports and passengers in the future, with the most recent additions being Salt Lake City International, JFK, Los Angeles International and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International. They are working toward a risk-based security system in an attempt to find ways to focus their resources on passengers that pose a higher risk to safety and to see if the PreCheck system helps them identify lower-risk passengers so they can continue keeping the skies safe.