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TSA ‘Pre-Check’ security program takes off at Albany Airport

Duber Winters of Woodbridge, Va., was passing through the Albany Airport on his way home and said the new pre-check program was a “fantastic” idea.

Duber Winters of Woodbridge, Va., was passing through the Albany Airport on his way home and said the new pre-check program was a “fantastic” idea. Photo by John Purcell.

— Some passengers will be flying through the security checkpoint at Albany International Airport thanks to a recently implemented expedited screening program.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration expanded its “Pre-Check” program to Albany, allowing pre-approved travelers to skip the hassle of removing their shoes, light coats and belt, while keeping laptops and liquids in their bags. The program previously was more limited, with travelers having to opt-in through an airline’s frequent flier program or trusted traveler service.

Brian Johansson, federal security director for TSA at Albany, said the program provides a different level of screening based on risk assessment of a passenger.

Johansson said the program allows TSA to focus its efforts on “passengers the agency knows less about while providing expedited screening for travelers who volunteer to provide” information before flying. The TSA started selecting passengers based on information provided through reservations last Thursday.

“The program acknowledges the fact that we recognize the vast majority of passengers pose no threat to security,” Johansson said, “and it demonstrates a shift from our one-size fits all approach to a more risk-based approach to security.”

Travelers can enroll for the program through an application process requiring a background check, fingerprints will be taken and an enrollment fee of $85 for five years. Those enrolled will receive faster security screenings more regularly, but it is never guaranteed.

TSA enhances security of the program through random and “unpredictable security measures.” The expedited lane will not always be open either, but it will be available during peak hours.

“You have to inject a little bit of randomness into to it to ensure that somebody is not beating the system,” he said.

The program is offered to passengers traveling on Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways out of Albany, with Southwest Airlines expected to participate before the end of this year.

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