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Making Airport Precheck Free Could Save Tsa Millions: Report

By Chicago Tribune

December 6, 2016

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A University of Illinois study found if the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) paid for the expedited airport screening program PreCheck for frequent fliers, it would save the agency $34 million a year, enhance airport security, and cut down on long lines. PreCheck enables travelers to skip parts of the traditional security line, such as removing shoes, belts, and jackets. TSA has a goal of signing up 25 million fliers by 2019, with 12 million currently participating in the expedited screening programs.

PreCheck, which involves fingerprinting and background checks, requires an $85 fee to apply and travelers must renew their enrollment every five years, deterring many fliers who would otherwise qualify. However, the study found PreCheck is four times more efficient at screening people than ordinary, time-consuming screening processes, and TSA could realize millions in savings by offering free enrollments to fliers taking six round trip each year.

Some groups of travelers who already have undergone federal background checks are granted PreCheck at no cost, such as active-duty armed services members and State Department employees. Airlines also provide incentives to get PreCheck, including vouchers for frequent fliers and waived fees for airline credit cards.

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