PUBLISHED: 10:46 EST, 22 July 2013 | UPDATED: 10:49 EST, 22 July 2013
The TSA has put a price on a security pat down as they are now allowing more people to bypass parts of the extensive screening procedures at airports if they sign up for a pre-approval service.
The Transportation Security Administration has had an expedited screening program for years but now they are widening the net of people who will be able to enrol and avoid pat downs at the airport.
U.S. citizens will be able to enrol online later this year or visit an enrolment site to provide identification, fingerprints and an $85 fee.
No lines: The expedited screening service will mean that flyers who enroll and pay the fee will face smaller lines and have to disrobe far less than others, theoretically saving time at the airport
Even if flyers enrol in the program, that won’t mean that they are free of the security screening process entirely, however.
By submitting the necessary identification papers and background checks, the flyers will only be able to leave their shoes, light outerwear and belts on, and keep their laptops in their bags rather than removing them and placing them in a plastic bin.
They will still have to walk through the scanning machines, and may be patted down by security agents should they deem it specifically necessary.
In the past, flyers were able to join the PreCheck program if they were frequent flyer members on select airlines, but now it will be open to all American travellers.
‘TSA PreCheck enables us to focus on the travellers we know the least about, adding efficiency and effectiveness to the screening process,’ Mr Pistole said in a statement.
About 12 million people are currently enrolled in the program and organizers expect about another 3 million people to enrol before the end of the year.
Pros and cons: Flyers who enroll will not have to wait in long lines or take off their shoes (left) but will still have to go through the screening machines (right)
Expanding: A similar version of the program is in place at 40 countries right now but the new expansion will start at Washington’s Dulles airport and the Indianapolis, Indiana airport later this year
No launch date has been specified for the expanded service, but when it is opened it will only go first to Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport and the Indianapolis International Airport in Indiana.
Even some of the program’s strongest supporters have concerns about the move, including Congressman Bennie Thompson who serves on the House committee which oversees the TSA.
One of his most telling points was the concern over the fact that PreCheck will be handled by private contractors and not federally-employed agents.
‘If done right, the program has the potential to afford a greater number of individuals who pose no threat to aviation security the type of less-invasive passenger-screening frequent fliers and other handpicked populations have enjoyed for over a year,’ he said in a statement released to The Washington Post.
‘As with all screening programs administered by TSA, the success of the endeavor will be dependent on effective communications with the public and effective management behind the scenes.’