Some frequent fliers passing through Washington Dulles International Airport now may be able to keep their shoes, belts and jackets on when traveling through security.
The Transportation Security Administration opened a new "TSA PreCheck" checkpoint at the airport Tuesday in the center of the departures level of the main terminal, the first airport in the country to have a dedicated checkpoint for expediting some passengers.
The pre-screened fliers have to qualify in advance, then they must be pre-screened each time they fly. The special clearance is embedded in their boarding pass barcode. When the passenger goes to the security line, the TSA officers refer the person to the special lane for faster screening. The passengers might not have to partially disrobe like the rest of the flying masses and may be able to keep their toiletries and laptop in their carry-on bags, according to the TSA.
But the flier won't know ahead of time.
And there are some catches about who can join the precheck crowd. They must be frequent travelers of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines or US Airways, be an active duty military member traveling to Charlotte, N.C., or belong to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler program. And of course, this doesn't give those fliers who pass through a complete pass.
"TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening in order to retain a certain element of randomness to prevent terrorists from gaming the system," the TSA warns.
The precheck program is available at 26 airports around the country for some carriers. More than 3 million passengers have used it, according to the administration. But the TSA hopes to expand the number to 35 airports this year.