Last week, I wrote about what the 2018 FAA Reauthorization means for fliers and airlines. The new law will affect our experiences at the Transportation Security Administration checkpoints, too. Here’s how.
Those of us who have magically found “TSA PreCheck” on our boarding passes, although we have never applied for the program — or paid for it — eventually will need to say goodbye to the free trips down the PreCheck fast lane. Within 18 months, that perk for randomly selected people deemed low-risk will fly away.
The law signed Oct. 5 requires that TSA PreCheck lanes be used only by members of trusted traveler programs — those who have paid for the privilege and have been approved by TSA. (Honestly, that feels just, even if I’ll miss the freebies.)
According to Lorie Dankers, a TSA spokeswoman, the agency must implement this change within 18 months, and “TSA is actively working to meet this deadline.”
TSA PreCheck, for domestic air travel, costs $85 for a five-year membership. Other trusted-traveler programs whose members are cleared for PreCheck include Global Entry, best for international travelers ($100 for five years), and Nexus, for people who frequently travel to Canada ($50 for five years).
The law also requires that TSA begin a third screening protocol at airports for low-risk passengers.
“Because a pilot program must be established within 60 days of enactment, TSA is already in the planning stages,” Dankers wrote in an e-mail. No word on which airports will get the pilot programs. But this suggests that nonmember people like me can still hope for a relatively speedy security experience.
On the other hand, maybe I’ll finally apply for Global Entry, as I’ve been intending. If I do, it will help the TSA meet another requirement of the law: an enrollment target of 10 million by October 2020 and 15 million by October 2021 for the PreCheck program.Already, more than 7 million people have enrolled.
Also, look for more airports to install signs to indicate the wait times at checkpoints, as MSP has done. The law also requires TSA to note waits online and at airports.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at email@example.com, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.