Speeding through the hated airport security line is getting easier—and for some passengers, less expensive.
The Transportation Security Administration announced in early September that it would more than double its expedited screening program, PreCheck, to 100 from 40 airports by the end of 2013. The agency will also open up applications to all U.S. citizens—currently, access is limited to those invited by a partner airline or who have applied for the Customs and Border Protection's Global Entry program. The expected $85 PreCheck fee would cover five years of eligibility.
The TSA isn't the only one expanding expedited screening options. Biometric identity firm Clear, which was available in five airports at the start of the year, recently launched at the San Antonio Airport and is debuting kiosks this fall at San Jose International Airport and Houston's Bush International and William P. Hobby airports. In the last year, carriers including WestJet, United and Virgin America have also added priority screening lines as a benefit for select travelers.
The appeal is obvious: Travelers gain access to a separate security line, which usually is shorter.
"That really speeds things along," said Ed Perkins, a contributing editor for travel advice site SmarterTravel.com. PreCheck has the added advantage of fewer screening rules. "You don't have to take off your shoes or take your laptop out of its case," he said.