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Since its initial launch in October 2011, the Transportation Security Administration’s expedited screening program, PreCheck, has become so popular (used by about 5 million out of the 14 million weekly airline passengers at the US’s 450 airports) that these days it’s sometimes the slowest security lane at the airport. That hasn’t stopped its forward march, however, and after expanding eligibility to some international itineraries last May, the Associated Press has just announced that PreCheck is expanding its international reach once again.
Today, April 29, 2014, Air Canada became the first international carrier to participate in PreCheck, and TSA officials are saying that other foreign carriers are soon to follow – presumably those with large US presence’s and route networks like British Airways, Air France KLM and Lufthansa. It makes sense Air Canada was first since it flies to more US airports than any other foreign airline.
Any new carriers signing on to participate will need to update their computer systems to enable embedding of extra information in boarding pass barcodes, as well as printing a PreCheck logo. The airlines themselves will be responsible for the cost of these updates, making the TSA’s push to get them participate in PreCheck a possibly uphill battle.
Air Canada joins nine US. airlines who already participate in PreCheck: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, and Virgin America. For now, the Canadian carrier will only use PreCheck at 41 of the 49 US airports it serves, and its passengers can only use the program if they print or reprint their boarding passes at airport check-in desks or kiosks. Later this year, passengers should be able to print boarding passes at home and via the airline’s mobile app that will display their PreCheck eligibility.
PreCheck is already is open to some elite frequent fliers of U.S. airlines as well as the 2.4 million travelers enrolled in one of the Customs and Border Protection’s expedited entry programs: Global Entry, Nexus and Sentri. Since PreCheck opened its application process in December, nearly 204,000 people have enrolled in the program which costs $85 and is good for five years.
As PreCheck continues its international expansion, part of me thinks its great news for travelers here in the US, but it’s also bound to congest those PreCheck lines even further, so only time will tell.
If you don’t have TSA PreCheck yet, remember that you can get it with the Trusted Traveler number you get with Global Entry. Several credit cards offer GOES application fee reimbursements, such as the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum cards (even additional cardholders), and the Citi Thank You Prestige card. In addition, United offers its Global Services, MileagePlus Premier 1K and MileagePlus Premier Platinum members the $100 reimbursement. If you qualify for reimbursement, log into this page to get your personalized code.