Lengthy waits at the El Paso International Airport could soon be a thing of the past if you're willing to pay for preferred service.
El Paso’s airport is one of 60 that will soon join the Transportation Safety Administration’s pre-check program. Since 2011 more than 15 million people have used the program which allows select passengers to skip the typical TSA line. Right now, 40 airports have the program implemented.
The program isn’t random. Some passengers who are eligible for the program are contacted by the TSA. As the program rolls out to more airports, the TSA will launch an application program for those interested.
The application will cost $85. Fingerprints are taken, a background check is completed and it’s determined whether someone meets the requirements. If you do, you can expedite the screen process which could allow you to skip taking your shoes off, removing jackets and belts, taking your laptop out of a case and putting liquids/gels from your carry-on onto a screening lane. According to the TSA, some people that take part in the program will still be randomly checked.
“As TSA continues to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to transportation security, we are looking for more opportunities to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way possible,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole.
Some, including aviation expert Jim Tilmon, have questioned the security repercussions of expanding the program.
In an interview with CNN, Tilmon said that people without any criminal history could become the biggest issue: “To me, one of the greatest threats we have now is the person who has never crossed the line as far as the law is concerned. That has the perfect record, never gotten a traffic ticket, nothing, absolutely zero, that can pass this kind of a check with just a fingerprint, other information and $85.”
Local travelers seemed less concerned with safety, and more excited with the prospect of traveling through lines more quickly.
“You know, in a small airport like this, you know even with small lines it can take you 30 minutes, 40 minutes,” said Noe Silva. “If you have a slow day like this, a quick 10-15 minutes. That could make the difference between making the flight and missing a flight.”
“Oh, I would definitely do it,” said Trevin Barnes, a frequent traveler who said $85 wouldn’t deter him from speeding up the process.
The pre-check pass would be good for five years. An implementation date has not been given by the TSA for El Paso, however, all 60 selected airports are expected to be running the pre-check program by the end of the year.