Frequent flyers, fee payers avoid screening hassles

Published On: Oct 23 2012 07:01:00 AM HST

It's called TSA Pre Check. The Transportation Security Administration program started in October 2011. About two dozen airports now participate.

On Tuesday, the Honolulu International Airport became the latest airport to join the program.

"It allows us to get away from the one-size fits all security," said TSA spokesperson Nico Melendez.

3.5 million travelers have signed up so far.

It is a chance to avoid removing your shoes, your jacket, taking out toiletry bags and laptops.

"Not having to take off shoes and all that stuff is awesome," said Greg Carlson, who travels frequently from Minneapolis and San Diego. He says it's shaved up to a half an hour off his wait time.

About a month ago, airlines started emailing qualified passengers, the ones who fly far, or fly often, to offer them the TSA Pre-Check option at Honolulu International Airport.

Starting Tuesday, the ones who signed up, a couple dozen so far had a chance to test the system in Hawaii.

"I've lost keys, I've lost phones and different things through security, so hopefully there will be less of that going on," said Jim Rooney, who travels several times a month.

People can either use their ticket, with the barcode on it or they can use their cell phone, but the TSA says there's still a chance you'll be subjected to random screening process that on occasion, might bump you back to the regular line.

"The response has been overwhelmingly positive. That's why we've been able to add additional airlines, additional airports and we hope to continue to do so in the year 2013," said Melendez.

Still, TSA says the program continues to grow.

Several major airlines in Honolulu have signed on including United, American, Delta, Alaska and US Air, and Melendez says Hawaiian Airlines is not far behind.

"So far, when I've done it, it's been fantastic," said Rooney.

Right now, only domestic flights out of HNL offer the Pre Check line, which is located at check point three near Japan Airlines.

International flights are not part of the program nor are inter-island flights.

Travelers who do not qualify, or chose not to participate in their carrier's program, can pay for one of three programs that will offer essentially the same benefits.

The services cost about $100 for five years. Participants are required to go through an interview process, likely through the TSA website.


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