• Bill introduced to end free pass for PreCheck

    PreCheck has allowed for expedited screening for many travelers. The TSA has been reining it in slowly, but some members of Congress want it to happen more quickly. (Photo by Grant Wickes)

    PreCheck has allowed for expedited screening for many travelers. The TSA has been reining it in slowly, but some members of Congress want it to happen more quickly. (Photo by Grant Wickes)

    Patrick Coleman
    Last summer, TSA administrator John Pistole told the New York Times that the agency was going to do away with allowing non-registered passengers to use its PreCheck service. The program, which accounted for about 45 percent of all passengers at the time, was going to be limited to just the people who had signed up, paid and have gone through the application process.

    Last month, the TSA reminded travelers who were early adopters of PreCheck that they need to have a Known Traveler Number in order to continue using the program. So, the administration has made some moves to limit access. However, the program and the policy persists. In response, members of Congress have introduced legislation to ensure that PreCheck is accessible only by those who have signed up.

    More about TSA PreCheck
    Early adopters must recheck PreCheck
    My PreCheck application experience
    Navigating the PreCheck lane
    Application centers spreading
    Where you can apply

    “This legislation seeks to ensure that the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program is conducted in a responsible manner, which does not cause unnecessary security vulnerabilities in passenger security screening,” Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) said in a statement, quoted widely.

    “As threats to our aviation sector continue to evolve, it is (crucial) that we do not become complacent and that TSA is held accountable for ensuring the security of the traveling public,” Katko added. “The risk-based security model, including the PreCheck program, has been an important step forward in keeping our skies safe and improving the passenger screening experience.  I continue to support risk-based security and TSA PreCheck and look forward to seeing the program’s continued success going forward.”

    Katko, the chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, was joined by members of his subcommittee, one from each party, in helping bring this legislation forward.

    “I do not have confidence that TSA’s use of random or case-by-case, on-site security risk assessments to identify passengers for expedited screening is keeping us secure,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). “That is why I introduced legislation to limit expedited screening to certain, known low-risk groups. This bill will also ensure that specific criteria are met if expedited screening is expanded.”

    From the text of the fact sheet associated with this proposed legislation:

    The “Securing Expedited Screening Act” would direct TSA to limit expedited screening to passengers who:

    (1) participate in the TSA PreCheck known traveler program or another Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler program;

    (2) Are military servicemembers, disabled military servicemembers, and veterans traveling on Honor Flights, and other passengers eligible for expedited screening pursuant to the ‘Risk Based Security for Members of the Armed Forces Act’, the ‘Helping Heroes Fly Act’, and the ‘Honor Flight Act’;

    (3) Are in populations identified by TSA as known and low risk; and

    (4) Are 75 or older, or 12 years and under and traveling with a parent or guardian who is a participant of the PreCheck program.

    If you rely on getting free or random expedited screening, it makes sense to go through the application process for PreCheck or choose one of the other trusted traveler programs. If you travel even just once or twice a year, paying $85 for five years of PreCheck or $100 for five years of Global Entry is worth the cost.