A new passenger screening program to make check-in more convenient for eligible Delta Air Lines passengers flying out of Salt Lake City International Airport will start next week, the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday.
The program will be available to passengers in Delta’s frequent-flier program on Tuesday, TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said.
The Salt Lake City launch is part of TSA’s plan to expand the screening program to 28 more major U.S. airports. There will be no cost to eligible passengers, who would no longer have to remove their shoes and belts before passing through security.
The program, already in a test phase in seven other airports, is the Obama administration’s first attempt at a passenger screening program that’s responsive to frequent complains that the TSA isn’t using common sense when it screens all passengers the same way.
Under the new program, eligible travelers have the option to volunteer more personal information about themselves so that the government can vet them for security purposes before they arrive at airport checkpoints.
Eligible travelers participate in Delta and American airlines’ frequent-flier programs, as well as those in three other trusted-traveler programs run by the Customs and Border Protection agency, which charges fees. Participants opt-in by updating their personal profiles with their carriers.
The program works this way: Participating travelers will walk through a dedicated lane at airport security checkpoints. They will provide the TSA officer with a specially-marked boarding pass. A machine will read the barcode. Travelers deemed “low risk” will likely be allowed to keep on belts, shoes and jackets and leave laptops and liquids in bags while being screened.
By the end of 2012, the government expects select passengers in frequent-flier programs for US Airways and United, which also fly out of Salt Lake City’s airport, to be eligible for the program. Alaska Airlines passengers will be eligible as well. Dankers said she didn’t know when passengers flying other airlines serving the airport might be able to use the program.
The program already is being tested at airports in Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St. Paul. It will be available in Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C., New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in March.
Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, Houston, Honolulu, Phoenix, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle are among the other cities where the program will be operational.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.