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October 22. 2013 10:08PM

Trusted travelers

Express lane for frequent fliers should speed screening for all in Manchester


Travelers wait in line to be screened Tuesday at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Frequent fliers invited by their airlines can now use a speedier security screening line (TSA Pre-Check) during peak hours at Manchester-Boston Regional Aiport. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — A dedicated security line for pre-screened travelers at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport should speed up the security screening during peak travel times for others as well, officials said.

The federal government's Pre-Check program allows certain approved frequent travelers to go through a shorter security line and forego removing their shoes, belts and jackets.

"That removes them from the larger queue, thus shortening the screening experience for the non-Pre-Check passengers," Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Ann Davis said Tuesday.

Davis said TSA hasn't calculated how much time Pre-Check saves people, saying it varies based on other factors at different airports and that TSA doesn't keep counts at individual airports on how many people use the dedicated lines.

The phased rollout at Manchester added afternoon hours starting this week to allow certain frequent travelers invited by airlines. The Pre-Check line is open from 4:30 to 7 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. at Manchester, one of 97 airports nationwide with such lines.

Southwest Airlines, which serves nearly 6 in 10 Manchester fliers, will offer the service to certain customers beginning Nov. 13, according to airport spokesman Tom Malafronte.

Once a passenger opts in, the airlines identifies that customer as a participant when submitting the passenger reservation information to TSA's secure flight system.

Later this year, TSA will open the program to the public. People can pay $85 and submit fingerprints to apply for entry into Pre-Check. There is no charge for frequent fliers invited by the airlines, Davis said.

At the airport Tuesday, Gail Landy of Fitzwilliam waited for her Southwest flight to Chicago.

"I don't think it makes as much difference here as in Chicago," Landy said. "It would speed up the lines at other airports."

Joyce Morin, who was heading to Florida for a trade show, said she thought it was a good idea.

"If I traveled more, I would," the Manchester woman said.

TSA said 17 million passengers have been logged using Pre-Check since it launched in October 2011.

The airlines currently participating are Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, United, US Airways and Virgin America.

Current members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Global Entry, SENTRI or NEXUS programs already are eligible to participate in the TSA Pre-Check.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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