Transportation

TSA says incoming PreCheck data might contain errors

Shutterstock image: examining a line of code.

The Transportation Security Administration is advising the growing number of participants in its expedited screening program that they might need to check with third-party booking agents and airlines to ensure that their personal data is correct.

Booking agents and airline data systems can sometimes inadvertently short-circuit the transfer of personal data that TSA uses to link participants to the Known Traveler Numbers (KTNs) assigned by its PreCheck program, according to TSA officials.

Since it opened a new $85 application option, the agency has seen a slight uptick in complaints via social media from PreCheck participants who were denied access to prescreened security lanes at airports, a TSA spokesman said in an interview with FCW.

Previously, PreCheck participants entered through other agencies' prescreening programs, such as Customs and Border Protection's Global Entry and SENTRI. Those two programs, however, require travelers to have passports. TSA's PreCheck does not require passports because only about 30 percent of U.S. domestic travelers have them, the spokesman said.

Since TSA offered the new option, the agency has added about 300,000 passengers to the PreCheck program, the spokesman said. The program requires passengers to provide name, date of birth and gender, at a minimum. The airlines are responsible for managing and transmitting travelers' information to TSA before flights depart.

Sometimes information fields are mismatched, data is entered in the wrong slot, or other issues occur that prevent the KTN from being transmitted to TSA correctly and keep travelers from accessing the PreCheck lanes at airports. In a June 6 blog post, TSA Press Secretary Ross Feinstein advised travelers to contact airlines or travel agents to correct the data.

Furthermore, "we have learned that TSA Pre-Check travelers who receive their KTN only add it directly to their frequent flier profile," Feinstein wrote in the blog post. "You may think you are all set, but more may be required to be eligible for TSA PreCheck on your next flight."

Feinstein explained that if fliers add their KTN to their airline's frequent flier profile after they have booked reservations, their profile won't update the previous reservations. In addition, if participants make reservations through a third-party website rather than the airlines' website or through a travel agency, the KTN sometimes is not transmitted to the airline, which means it won't be transmitted to TSA.

Although Feinstein recommended that travelers work with airlines directly to resolve any issues, he said passengers can contact TSA via social media as a last resort and added that the agency can sometimes spot spelling errors, erroneous data entry and other issues, and then notify travelers.

"We recommend that when in doubt, call your air carrier to verify that your Secure Flight data matches and make any corrections," Feinstein wrote. "Verify that the airline has your first/middle/last name and correct date of birth exactly as you applied and/or received your KTN."

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

  • Shutterstock image.

    Merged IT modernization bill punts on funding

    A House panel approved a new IT modernization bill that appears poised to pass, but key funding questions are left for appropriators.

  • General Frost

    Army wants cyber capability everywhere

    The Army's cyber director said cyber, electronic warfare and information operations must be integrated into warfighters' doctrine and training.

  • Rising Star 2013

    Meet the 2016 Rising Stars

    FCW honors 30 early-career leaders in federal IT.

Reader comments

Tue, Jun 10, 2014 Bryan California

Hi, Abenet. I had the same thing happen to me about 8 days ago. I was flying out of LAX Los Angeles International Airport with Delta Airlines. I was pointed into a separate line (which I learned later was the TSA Pre✅ line) from my parents and the rest of my family; I had no idea what was going on. My parents were telling me all the things to remember: Take your belt off. Take your coat off. Take your shoes off. Make your shampoo/bathroom bag available to take out for the security. Then I just went right through; I didn't have to take off my shoes or anything out of my bag. This is the first time I've been on a plane / through airport security (except once when I was like 3-4 years old). Tomorrow I am flying back to LA (with a layover in Detroit) and neither of the boarding passes contain the TSA Pre✅ Logo. Is this just a bug in Delta's system? Are they just handing out TSA Pre✅ To random individuals? If this happened to me, this could happen to anybody else. Somebody perhaps more, I don't know, dangerous...

Tue, Jun 10, 2014 Abenet Essayas

I was traveling from DC to Chicago and 5 days later from to Chicago to DC. On my way back I passed security line without being checked properly, no taking out shoes,no body check up or my handbag check. One guy said it is because you are TSAPre. How did I become one, nobody knows, I did not know anything about it, neither did I apply for any of that . It was written on my card, how by who I have no clue. I still do not have any idea . Please someone explain

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group