New program promises shorter waits for frequent fliers at RDU

kpoe@newsobserver.comMarch 15, 2013 

  • Pre-Check

    Fliers who are not invited by their airlines to join the Transportation Security Administration’s Pre-Check program can still enroll by becoming a member of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program.

    Enrollment costs $100 for a five-year period and requires an in-person interview with Customs and Border Protection. The nearest locations for interviews are Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Dulles International Airport in Washington.

Frequent fliers could soon expect shorter security screening times at Raleigh-Durham International Airport thanks to a new program scheduled to begin later this month.

The U.S. Transportation and Security Administration is adding RDU to its Pre-Check program, which already operates at 35 airports. The program speeds up the screening process for eligible fliers by allowing them to go through a faster line that does not require passengers to take off light jackets, shoes or belts or to remove laptops or bags of liquids from carry-on bags.

“Passengers go through that almost without breaking stride,” TSA spokesman Jon Allen said. “They’re generally seasoned and experienced travelers, so when they come up they’ve got their ID and their boarding pass out.”

The TSA does not disclose the Pre-Check eligibility requirements for security reasons, Allen said. Participating airlines, which at RDU include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways, will notify passengers if they qualify, based on their travel history and other factors.

Other airlines may join the program eventually, Allen said.

The program will open at the Terminal 2 checkpoint. RDU is one of five airports nationwide to get the new program this month.

All travelers are still subject to random security measures.

The Pre-Check program comes to RDU just as the federal budget cuts known as sequestration are beginning to take hold.

The TSA has warned passengers that they might see increased lines and longer wait times because of a hiring freeze, among other factors. During busy flight times, passengers could see wait times reach more than 30 minutes, the TSA said in a statement.

Raleigh hasn’t yet seen longer wait times, said airport spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin.

“We have not seen any impacts on our lines at the security checkpoints,” Hamlin said. “If it’s going to happen, it would happen later, but our understanding is that here those impacts will mostly not be seen by passengers.”

Poe: 919-836-4918

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