TSA May Stop Giving PreCheck to Many Passengers Starting Next Wednesday

Supposedly the TSA is going to stop sending people through PreCheck who haven’t registered for PreCheck (or one of the other programs that comes with PreCheck).

As of February 2017, TSA will significantly reduce access to TSA Pre✓® expedited screening lanes for non-enrolled travelers.

They’ve said this before — an end to one “managed inclusion” program, but a continuation of another. The TSA has sent ‘Behavior Detection Officers’ to pick people out of line for expedited screening. These staffers have had a short course in mind reading pretending to be Israeli reading body language to pick out who is a threat and who isn’t, but there’s no indication that the training is effective or that the employees are any good at it.

TSA has also let dogs pick out who gets expedited screening. The dogs aren’t necessarily better at it than the humans and of course the humans have to ‘interpret’ what the dogs tell them.

DFW PreCheck

If you think that:

  • Trusted traveler programs with background checks are good predictors of who is a risk and who isn’t
  • TSA staff and dogs in the airport don’t do the job nearly as well
  • More extensive screening — shoes off, laptops out, walk through the nude-o-scope — contributes to security

Then you don’t like sending more travelers through PreCheck who haven’t signed up for PreCheck.

One Mile at a Time likes the idea of limiting access to PreCheck because it limits inexperienced travelers slowing down his lane.

I’m happy to see the TSA restrict the number of non-registered travelers who have access to Pre-Check. I’m happy about it not because it reduces the number of travelers using the lanes per se, but rather because it reduces the number of infrequent travelers using the lanes, who may not be familiar with the process, and therefore slow down the line.

I get that sentiment. I really do. However the nude-o-scopes are easily foiled (the TSA doesn’t dispute this). They are, however, used by TSA employees as an excuse to fondle attractive passengers. They don’t actually enhance security.

In fact, slow security processes are bad for security.

Philadelphia PreCheck

The Brussels and Istanbul attacks last year were outside security and underscore that it’s not just about protecting planes, but that gatherings of people outside of security are at risk too. That means long security lines make us vulnerable, not safe. We need to process people quickly through the checkpoint, not make them queue.

PreCheck is the security that everyone who isn’t specifically identified as a threat should go through. That will make us safer, not less safe. We should also separate the TSA’s job of regulating screening practices from actually performing duties at the checkpoint in order to create greater accountability.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Wife and I are PreCheck, our kids have always gotten it with one of us on the reservation. We’ll see what happens Monday morning when we fly together.

  2. I am at LAX and found the pre-check lines longer than regular. Lucky has a point about expedited security. I don’t want to be slowed down by people packing liquids or unable to navigate quickly. Selfish? Maybe it can be seen that way but the more people they can get through security fast has to be useful. Of course TSA could take lessons from other countries, which are much more efficient.

  3. I agree with everything in this post, but also believe that making people “vetted by association” (giving PreCheck to non-PreCheck passengers if traveling on the same reservation as a PreCheck passenger) makes perfect sense. There are tons of “what ifs” about how this could backfire, but typically the PreCheck passenger is with the non-PreCheck passengers during security to show them the ropes.

    Security-wise, the only drawback is that a terrorist with a clean record could grandfather PreCheck status to his buddies with not-so-clean records.

  4. Pre Check enrollment is nowhere near where DHS said it would/should be, and never has. This is yet another ploy to drive enrollment by taking away otherwise granted opportunities (remember when EXPs and other top tier elites got it complimentary when the program first rolled out?). Of course, TSA doesn’t have the appointment capacity necessary to even process the level of applicants that they want, but that’s the DHS for you

  5. We travel all the time with our young daughter and before we got global entry for all of us we still always get put on the lines with kids because they thought we didn’t know what we were doing. It used to infuriate us to get behind these people with 17 carry-on bags, the stroller, kids that didn’t know what they were doing and parents that didn’t know what they were doing. Global entry with the included TSA PreCheck it’s been a lifesaver for us because they still assume we don’t know what we’re doing and put us on those lines when there’s no TSA PreCheck Line open and yet my daughter has traveled the world and she’s only 12. It should only be for people that have been vetted and paid the fee.

  6. How about giving travelers with trusted traveler credentials (such as a physical GE card) who are not flying on an airline participating in PreCheck yet access to the PreCheck lane? This is one of my biggest frustrations about PreCheck.

  7. Tell me more about these “nude-o-scopes”. You do realize that nobody sees any picture right (or are you not that experienced a traveler). Another self serving and stupid colum from an elitist snob who sees himself better than the unwashed masses that he is God forbid made to share the same airport with. I liked your articles better when you injected less personal agenda and more factual information in them. Happy travels pal.

  8. If you people are so concerned about the line moving slower because of newbies, would you accept TSA only giving pre check to people who have flown a certain amount in the last, say 3 years?

    I for one find all bypass programs objectionable because it creates a Caste System, one for the elite, and one for “the great unwashed.”

    What evidence is there that one is more dangerous than the other?

  9. All dumb moves by the new regime. Not banning people from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan-the hotbeds of terrorism is the greatest example of how clueless they are.

  10. Gary you still don’t have a clue about what tsa does as for the nude a scope where is it love to see nude women if that really happened tsa would have been shut down years ago. But the fact that tsa is restricting precheck that is a good idea since they just signed on 11 more airlines.

  11. Gary has no idea what he is talking about. He is still stuck in 2002. Before you post this bs do your research.

  12. TSA Pre-check lines should ONLY be for those who have paid for the service and have been cleared for use by government officials.
    Just because someone has “elite” frequent flyer status, or is traveling in a “premium” cabin and the airline wants to offer them a “perk” by giving them a free pass through the Pre-check line isn’t fair to those of us who have paid their $85 or $100 (if you are including global entry), have gone through the process of filling out paperwork, waiting for approval, going for an interview, being approved, and finally receiving the rightful privilege to actually use this line.
    If you want to use the TSA pre-check lines – you need to pay up -just like the rest of us have.
    The “entitlement days” should be over!

  13. Obviously written by someone who hasn’t a damn clue. Stuff like this makes me sick. Next time you fly, actually pay attention to what’s going on. The “95% Test Failure”? Wrong and severely outdated “evidence.” Things have changed greatly and in ways you could never possibly comprehend. Did you know that 2016 is the record breaker for amount of guns found in a carry on? 9 per day in Nashville alone. 9.
    PreCheck was drafted because of people like you whining about TSA and what WE do. Guess what? We’d rather PreCheck didn’t exist. The airlines have gotten out of hand with it, and this is our way of saying no. Do we want to pat you down? HELL NO. I’ve been urinated on, one of my friends was bitten, another defacated on. But hey, what we do “isn’t important”, and TSOs “don’t actually care.” The “nude-o-scope”? Backscatter imaging is GONE. We don’t do that. What we use now is a light wave that can detect even scar tissue. But do we know it’s scar tissue? Nope. We have to pat you down to find out, so YOU don’t feel violated by us “seeing” things. And frankly, we don’t want to see it either. Don’t you think I (and numerous other TSOs) would rather be home spending time with my family? Of course! But, I felt the call to serve my country and protect YOU, so YOU could write ignorant and incredibly misinformed information. “TSA hasn’t stopped any terrorists.” Do you really think they’re gonna go, “Oh look! Ya got me! Here’s my ISIS membership card!” Nope. And before you say, “Do I look like a terrorist to you? Does Grandma?” Ask yourself this: what DOES a terrorist look like?

  14. I have lucked out the last 3 or 4 times I have travelled and gotten the PRECHECK blessing! I have since signed up for the pre-check and Global Entry status. I sent my $100 in with all the required info, only to find out that in Cincinnati, I cannot get an appointment for them to take my photo and fingerprints until October! So all my summer /fall trips I will not be able to take advantage of the expedited lines….yet my check he $100 was cashed within 2 days!
    Homeland Security in Cincinnati said that there are only 4 agents, sometimes only 2 working in one day. They only take appointments Tue, Wed or Thur from 11-2pm. I guess they have lunch in there too.

  15. Sure TSO would prefer that TSA pre check would not exist. Consider the fact that the TSA precheck passengers have been more vetted than any non passenger in the regular security line. I am in favor of profiling like they do in Israel.

  16. TSA jobs are more social welfare for morons who cannot get real jobs doing something of actual utility. Sure it’s great to have a safety net for the truly ignorant. But please don’t put them in the way of me getting on an airplane. Maybe they could just be transferred to a new TSA, the Trash Seeking Army and they could keep their shiny badges and wander the airport picking up litter.

  17. TSA is a nice attempt at social welfare for morons who could not find a job doing anything useful. Yes, a safety net is great for these poor idiots but don’t let them slow me down at the airport. Transferring them to a new TSA, the Trash Seekers Army, would let them keep their shiny badges and they could wander airports picking up litter.

  18. Having just gone through TSA pre-wait at Atlanta Int’l Terminal I’m thoroughly frustrated and agree with some of the sentiments expressed above in the post and comments. I am a very frequent flier and paid my money and did yet another background check and got my PreCheck cemented to my boarding passes. This is a program for frequent fliers to opt in to, and pay for to expedite their security process. It’s fine if TSA wants to pull me for enhanced screening for cause but doing the opposite is just plain infuriating. The family of 4 (three kids and a mom) fumbling with bags, taking earrings off, confused by water bottles and belts and shoes. Why are they in the Pre line? Why are my parents in the pre line? Why is anyone ho has not paid for the service and gone through the process in the line. The regular scene is now a slow moving Pre line and a very short line for standard security but, at least some airports I travel through the TSO won’t allow a PreCheck passenger to use standard security so paid Pres are stuck and more and more uneducated travelers are clogging the line. Just stop giving it away. Why is this such a difficult idea. Does the DMV randomly mail out drivers licenses to people that look good enough to drive?

  19. May 2nd. Still given out randomly. So I biught when they said it was going away for free. Two years later can i get a refund?

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