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TSA's new fast-lane security screening debuts at LAX

January 20, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • The PreCheck program, which started Wednesday at LAX, allows eligible passengers to skip traditional security lines, shown here, and be screened more quickly in a separate checkpoint lane.
The PreCheck program, which started Wednesday at LAX, allows eligible… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

The Transportation Security Administration rolled out PreCheck, the expedited security program for pre-screened fliers, this week at Los Angeles International Airport, the sixth airport in the nation to participate in the pilot program since it started last year.

In an announcement Wednesday, the TSA said the program at LAX so far is available only to American Airlines frequent fliers at two checkpoints in Terminal 4.

Here's how it works: Fliers who are U.S. citizens provide personal information and undergo background checks to qualify for traveler programs approved by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, such as Global Entry, SENTRI and NEXUS. Once fliers are deemed eligible, they are allowed to keep their shoes and belts on and leave laptops and 3-1-1 liquids inside their carry-on bags. 

Passengers receive boarding passes embedded with a bar code that signals to the TSA they are eligible for PreCheck. They may then be screened at a fast lane where they forgo the shoes-and-belt routine. But this doesn't mean PreCheck passengers get a pass. Their bags are still scanned for security, and they're still subject to random security checks like everyone else, according to the TSA.

Airports in Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Miami and Las Vegas also have PreCheck screening. The program is supposed to be rolled out to more airports later this year, including JFK Airport in New York.

How do you qualify for PreCheck? Passengers who are frequent fliers (at LAX, that means those enrolled in American's AAdvantage program) may be invited to join by the airline. Interested fliers also may learn about traveler programs and how to apply at the U.S. Customs website.

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