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Airport Passenger Rights Security

TSA PreCheck Lanes Could Soon (Finally) Be for PreCheck Members Only

For $85 and a little bit of legwork, TSA PreCheck lets you skip the airport security line on domestic flights. It’s a nice service for frequent travelers wanting to save time, and a privilege, you’d think, worth paying for.

There’s just one problem: TSA sometimes lets regular travelers who haven’t purchased TSA PreCheck use the PreCheck lane. Understandably, that doesn’t go over well with valid PreCheck passengers, especially when said unenrolled travelers don’t understand they don’t need to remove their shoes or take anything out of their bags, and therefore hold up the line. But Congress might be about to put a stop to the practice.

[st_related] Global Entry vs TSA PreCheck: Which Is Better? [/st_related]

Non-PreCheck travelers haven’t paid the $85, and haven’t provided fingerprints or visited a PreCheck enrollment center. As Forbes points out, the program, called Managed Inclusion, “officially allowed low-risk passengers access to the lane. As a result, expedited screening lanes were often congested with passengers unfamiliar with procedure, slowing down the overall flow of the checkpoint.”

Managed Inclusion was supposed to end in 2015, but some outside passengers are still given access to expedited screening.

[st_related]TSA PreCheck: 10 Things You Need to Know[/st_related]

Can Congress Fix PreCheck?

Congress may now be poised to step in via the awkwardly named PreCheck Is PreCheck Act, which “directs the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to ensure that only travelers who are members of a trusted traveler program are permitted to use TSA PreCheck security screening lanes at TSA checkpoints.” The legislation does make exceptions for travelers under 12 or over 75 who are traveling with a PreCheck member, allowing them to use PreCheck lanes regardless of status. The House passed the law, and it now awaits consideration in the Senate.

Interestingly, the act also states that “the TSA shall implement a risk modified screening protocol for lanes other than designated TSA PreCheck security screening lanes at TSA checkpoints to further segment passengers based on risk. Only low-risk passengers shall be eligible to undergo risk modified screening at TSA checkpoints.”

This seems to direct or allow TSA to develop an alternate approach to divert “low-risk” travelers from the main security line that’s not through PreCheck. That alone would be a benefit to ordinary travelers, so hopefully it comes to pass.

Readers, are you enrolled in PreCheck or its international counterpart, Global Entry?

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the About.com Boston travel guide.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "It's not revolutionary, but a small Moleskine notebook is my one travel must-have. It's great for noting things you want to remember and it takes up hardly any space in your bag."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Japan. I'd love to take a month off and visit the cities, temples, and countryside. I'm fascinated by the country's juxtaposition of ancient traditions and modern ambitions."

Travel Motto: “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” –Terry Pratchett

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window."

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