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The TSA has opened up its PreCheck system to every American that qualifies. All you have to do is pass a background check, provide some personal information and submit your fingerprints. (AP Photo/File)

TSA expands 'PreCheck' screening to all Americans

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We know you've stared in envy at those people heading into the short, pre-screened security line at the airport while you were stuck 40 people deep in your line.

You wished you were an airline frequent flier so you could keep your shoes on and leave your laptop in your bag.

Well now you can join them in line, if you pass the TSA's new PreCheck program.

The TSA has opened up its PreCheck system to every American that qualifies. All you have to do is pass a background check, provide some personal information and submit your fingerprints.

"We take that information," the TSA's Lorie Dankers said. "We process it and within about five days, if you're approved, you get a known traveler number. It is that known traveler number that uniquely identifies you to TSA when you fly as being pre-cleared, and it makes you eligible for the PreCheck lane."

You can then enter that known traveler number when you book a flight, and it will automatically appear on your boarding pass.

Allison Stoven applied for the PreCheck service at the new Seattle office which opened this week. "I don't like the long wait lines at the airport," she said. "It's nice to just be able to not have to take my laptop out, not have to take my shoes off and just have a much shorter line at security."

Four Puget Sound enrollment centers opened this week in Seattle, Everett, Fife and Anacortes. There's also an office in Kelso.

If you make an appointment, it should only take about 15 minutes to complete the process. The centers also take walk-ins. It costs $85 to enroll, and the known traveler number is good for five years.

But the TSA's Dankers said not everyone will qualify. "There are some disqualifying factors based on criminal history," she said. Things like convictions for possessing hazardous materials or treason. "Most people are inherently pose a low risk, and we're looking to identify who those people are."

I just went through that pre-screened line returning from the Super Bowl because the checkpoints were so slammed. It is pretty nice to keep your shoes on and simply put the bag on the conveyor belt.

I saved about 15 minutes over my traveling companion.


Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio Reporter
Chris loves the rush of covering breaking news and works hard to try to make sense of it all while telling stories about real people in extraordinary circumstances.
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