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(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) TSA agent Mary Jo Webb directs passengers to regular security line or through the airport's new PreCheck system allows travelers to skip having to remove belts, shoes, and light coats before going though the security screening process.
TSA expands new checkpoint program at SLC International
Screening » Process makes clearing security easier for frequent fliers and military members.
First Published Dec 16 2013 02:55 pm • Last Updated Dec 16 2013 05:57 pm

Pvt. Carlos Vilan, of Dugway, is the kind of traveler and soldier who worries about other people. So, when he wears his uniform and military boots when going through a traditional airport security check, he gets concerned about holding up those behind him.

That’s why he said he appreciated the Transportation Security Administration’s Pre√ program Monday as he used the screening that has just been made available at Salt Lake City International Airport this week.

At a glance

Tips for holiday air travelers

The 3-1-1 rule for carry-on luggage remains in place. This means liquids, gels and aerosols must be in bottles at are 3.4 ounces or smaller and placed in a quart- size clear plastic bag with a limit of one bag per passenger. Larger quantities of liquids can be placed in checked baggage.

Do not travel with wrapped packages. During screening, a security officer may need to unwrap and inspect the item. If you are traveling with gifts, please wrap them after you reach your destinations or place them in a reusable gift bag.

TSA operates a toll-free helpline called TSA Cares to provide assistance to travelers with disabilities or medical conditions. Passengers should call 72 hours ahead of travel about what to expect during screening. The number is 1-855-787-2227.

Know the contents of your carry-on bag prior to departing for the airport.

If you have a question about what you can or can’t carry on or pack, log on to the TSA website and go to a section called “Can I bring ...?” Type the name of the item there and you will see whether the item is allowed in your carry-on, checked baggage or not at all. The tool works from a mobile app as well.

Source: Transportation Security Administration

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"It’s pretty good," said Vilan. "It speeds up the process for civilians because they don’t have to wait for me to take off my boots."

The program, which has been operational at Salt Lake International Airport since February of 2012 when it was first introduced at Terminal Two, is an expedited screening program that allows pre-cleared travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their liquid gels in carry-on in select screening lines.

More than 100 airports nationwide are participating in the program.

Frequent travelers such as Megan Chody, of Chicago, appreciate the new process, which is available in Salt Lake City from Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Southwest, United and US Airways.

"It is a lovely thing for people who travel a lot and don’t like to wait," said Megan Chody, of Chicago, adding that "Salt Lake has the best TSA in the whole country."

Paul Armes, TSA Federal Security Director for Utah, said in a press conference that the agency is trying to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to transportation security.

Passengers who are eligible for TSA Pre√ include U.S. citizens who are members of frequent-traveler programs who are invited by participating airlines to participate. In addition, U.S. citizens who are members of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler programs and Canadian citizens who are members of the NEXUS program also qualify.

U.S. Armed Forces service members with a Common Access Card, but not retirees, qualify starting Friday. Passengers 12 and younger who are traveling with an eligible passenger can also go through the expedited line.

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TSA also recently began offering its Pre√ program to some passengers flying on a participating airline. The agency electronically analyzes passenger information provided during the reservation process and conducts a real-time risk assessment, pre-clearing some passengers for expedited screening.

In the coming months, the agency will expand the program by offering an enrollment and prescreening process that offers U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to apply for expedited screening benefits for an anticipated fee of $85, valid for five years.

When passengers are marked for Pre√, they are referred to a different lane.

"The TSA Pre√ initiative is enabling us to focus our resources on those passengers who may pose a higher risk, while providing expedited screening to those we consider low-risk, trusted travelers," said Armes. "This approach evolves over time, and today’s announcement reflects our commitment to secure, efficient aviation security screening."

Salt Lake City TSA agent Meggan Clark said passengers using the new service have different reactions.

"Some are happy and some don’t know what it is or don’t understand the program," she said.


Twitter: @tribtomwharton

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