Military trusted traveler program spreads to more airports

TSA's expedited screening procedures for active duty troops will be expanded 10-fold before Christmas, in part by getting rid of card scanners.

U.S. Troops at the Airport - U.S. Army file photo

Changes to the Transportation Security Administration screening procedures for military personnel should soon reduce troops' wait times at airports around the country.

The Transportation Security Administration is widening its expedited screening procedures program for military personnel in the coming weeks, and streamlining its trusted traveler identification IT systems at 10 airports around the country.

TSA announced Nov. 13 that it was teaming with the Defense Department to expand its Pre Check expedited screening procedures for all active duty armed forces personnel, including U.S. Coast Guard, reserves and National Guard, at airports across the country. The fast-tracked security check program allows passengers to keep shoes and jackets on and laptop computers and compliant liquids in suitcases.

TSA operates the program for active duty service members at 10 U.S. airports. That will expand to 100 by Dec. 20.

Military members had been using their Common Access Card (CAC) to get into the expedited security lanes. The cards have a printed computer barcode on the back that is inserted into a reader. Sources have said the printed code has sometimes led to problems at TSA checkpoints. A few instances of damaged or bent cards have come up, as have some instances where the codes have worn off over time, making them hard to scan in the dedicated reader equipment at checkpoints.

With the expansion, TSA will get rid of the dedicated card scanners and their supporting computer equipment at airport checkpoints.

As the program goes forward, the military ID number on the back of the CAC will become the military traveler’s “Known Traveler Number” in TSA’s Secure Flight system. Secure Flight is TSA’s behind-the-scenes security watch-list program that screens domestic and international air traffic.

The Secure Flight program uses information that airline passengers provide on their ticket reservations, including full name, date of birth, and gender. TSA matches the Secure Flight information against government watch lists. After matching passenger information against the lists, Secure Flight transmits the results to airlines so they can issue boarding passes.

Along with their initial reservation information, TSA said military members should provide the military ID numbers from the CAC. The number will then be printed on service members’ boarding passes, and scanned by readers at airlines that participate in the Pre Check program.

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