This March 9, 2013 photo shows almost non existent lines at a TSA security checkpoint at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, DC. KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its Pre-check speedier screening program to 60 more airports, in addition to 40 where it was already available.
The new airports should have the expedited checkpoint lanes - where participants are allowed to keep on their belts and shoes, and leave their laptops in their bags - by the end of the year, the agency announced Wednesday.
"Expanding TSA Pre-check to more locations enables many more passengers across the country to experience expedited screening," says TSA Administrator John Pistole.
More than 15 million passengers have gone through the expedited screening since it began in October 2011. But 1.8 million travelers fly each day, so Pistole is trying to expand participation in Pre-check.
Pistole is expanding the program as part of his effort to focus the greatest scrutiny on the riskiest or least-known passengers. His goal is to get 25% of passengers through expedited screening by the end of the year.
The free program began at specific airports for frequent fliers on airlines that now include Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, United, US Airways and Virgin America. JetBlue and Southwest are likely to join soon.
Pistole also recently allowed travelers to join the program in exchange for a one-time fee of $85 for five years, to cover a background check and fingerprinting. The first offices for processing applicants are at Washington's Dulles and Indianapolis airports.
Nicholas Calio, CEO of the trade group Airlines for America, praised TSA for focusing on risk-based security that makes travel more convenient while still enhancing security. He said the expansion "will greatly improve the overall travel experience by enabling more passengers to benefit from expedited screening."
Michael McCormick, executive director of the Global Business Travel Association, whose 6,000 members organize business travel and meetings, also commended the expansion.
"Quick, easy airport security checkpoint screening like TSA Pre-check saves business travelers time and money while ensuring security," McCormick said.
Bart Jansen, USA TODAY