Houstonian and business traveler Ron Hilton is on his first of three trips this week through Bush Intercontinental Airport, but today is a very different day for him coming through security.
“This took me about thirty seconds, saved me twenty minutes every time I come to the airport.”
But his favorite part of the new PreCheck program?
“This way I just put all my bags on the line and kept my jacket on, kept my shoes on and walked through.”
The majority of the customers using the new PreCheck lane at Terminal C in Bush Airport look like regular business travelers. Perhaps that’s because right now eligible passengers are only certain frequent fliers and members of U.S. Customs and Border’s Protection Trusted Traveler programs, who are U.S. citizens. Which can sound a little limiting, but Ann Testa, Houston’s TSA Federal Security Director says this is just the beginning.
“We picked those two population segments because we have a lot of information on those passengers but the population segments will grow to the point where we hope someday that 80% of our passengers are actually goin through the PreCheck lane.”
Customers can sign up to the free program at www.tsa.gov. If they’re eligible they will have information embedded in the barcode of their boarding pass. This means instant access to the designated TSA PreCheck lane and expedited screening. Which makes the PreCheck lane a very empty one most of the time.
“What we hope is that people will see how empty it is and they’ll want to join PreCheck.”
That’s Stephanie Buchanan Vice President of United Airlines in Houston. She hopes this new system will allow low risk customers to pass quickly through the airport, giving the TSA more time to focus their resources on genuine threats. Houston is the 19th airport to add the program and the TSA hopes to have 16 more on their list by the end of the year.