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TSA opens Pre-Check enrollment office at Charlotte Douglas

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/15/18/27/1k0OV.Em.138.jpeg|227
    Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com
    Passengers enter the TSA Pre-Check where there were no lines on Thursday, May 15, at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/15/18/27/1qEXCQ.Em.138.jpeg|243
    Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com
    A passenger goes through the TSA Pre-Check where there were no lines for passengers taking advantage of the service on Thursday, May 15, at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/15/18/27/knXvZ.Em.138.jpeg|205
    Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com
    Pre-Check screening status is valid for five years and lets travelers typically go through sped-up security lanes. A passenger takes advantage of the service Thursday in Charlotte.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/15/18/27/1fE4ER.Em.138.jpeg|221
    Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com
    A passenger goes through the TSA Pre-Check where there were no lines for passengers taking advantage of the service on Thursday, May 15, at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/15/18/27/1kdR8P.Em.138.jpeg|228
    Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com
    A passenger goes through the TSA Pre-Check where there were no lines for passengers taking advantage of the service on Thursday, May 15, at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The Transportation Security Administration said Thursday that a new enrollment office for Pre-Check screening is open at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, giving travelers the chance to apply for the expedited security lanes.

Pre-Check screening status is valid for five years and lets travelers typically go through sped-up security lanes. Travelers in the Pre-Check program – popular with business travelers and frequent fliers – can leave their shoes on, keep laptops in their bags and go through a conventional metal detector instead of new body-scanning machines at security checkpoints.

To get into the Pre-Check program, travelers must pay $85, complete an online form and apply in person to provide documentation and fingerprints for a background check. U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are eligible.

The Charlotte Douglas enrollment center is in the airport’s atrium, on the second floor, above the food court. Although walk-in appointments will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, the TSA recommends checking in ahead of time at TSA.gov for an appointment.

“This application process greatly increases the availability of TSA Pre-Check benefits to a broader population of travelers both in Charlotte and nationwide,” TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said in a statement. “TSA Pre-Check is enabling us to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to transportation security, as we look for even more opportunities to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way.”

Since it is behind the security checkpoints, the Pre-Check center is open only to ticketed or connecting passengers at Charlotte Douglas. More than three-quarters of Charlotte Douglas’ passengers are connecting, rather than starting or ending their trips in Charlotte. The TSA also has an enrollment center at 1100 S. Mint St., Suite 115, for people who aren’t traveling but want to apply.

The TSA has expanded Pre-Check in recent years, and the program is at 118 U.S. airports and open to people besides elite fliers. The agency says that it makes more sense to prescreen some people who are low security threats, rather than put everyone through the same level of scrutiny.

The agency also sometimes randomly assigns passengers to expedited security lanes at the B and E checkpoints at Charlotte Douglas, allowing those who haven’t signed up for Pre-Check to get the quicker screening.

Signing up for Pre-Check doesn’t mean passengers will get quicker screening every time they travel.

“TSA continues to incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening,” the agency notes.

Portillo: 704-358-5041; Twitter: @ESPortillo
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