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TSA Loosens Screening For More Lambert Airport Flyers

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio
A TSA agent screens a passenger at one of Lambert Airport's PreCheck security lines.

The Transportation Security Administration is clearing more than a quarter of the nation's commercial passengers for expedited screening as it expands its PreCheck program. Nationwide, the number of airports participating in the program has expanded from about 40 last year to more than 100 today.

During a press conference at Lambert Airport Tuesday, Federal Security Director William Switzer said travelers can now find separate screening lines at all concourses.

“We started with just one lane here in September of 2012," he said. "We’ve got more passengers encouraged about it, the way we can expedite customers ... but we’re not compromising security or the screening process one iota.”

PreCheck passengers don't have to remove their shoes, light outerwear or belts to pass through TSA checkpoints and are also not required to remove laptops and approved liquids from their carry-on luggage. The program assesses passengers' risk prior to their arrival at an airport checkpoint and identifies those who are selected for expedited screening on their boarding passes.

“The passengers love it. We can screen maybe 150 to 180 [flyers], easily, an hour through TSA PreCheck," Switzer said.  "So, in the standard [line] it could take you maybe five or ten minutes, whereas you can get through here in a matter of a minute or two.”

The program also allows qualified flyers to buy five-year PreCheck passes for $85. In a Dec. 19 statement, however, the TSA declared "no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening."

"The TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport."

Switzer says looser screenings are part of the administration's broader effort to provide airport security based on more specific risks.  

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