TSA PreCheck

NY Jets football fans can sign up for TSA Precheck at home games

Football fans take note:  If you keep meaning to sign up for TSA Precheck but can’t make the time to go to the airport for the in-person interview part of the application, you now have the option of taking care of that task at NY Jets home games at MetLife Stadium.

An IdentoGO processing station will be set up between lots E and F outside of the MetLife gate during home games throughout the 2017 season.

More details here.

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More – and more creative – ways to pay for TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck Enrollment Center at IND Airport - courtesy TSATSAS PRECHECK

Enrolling in TSA PreCheck seems to be the #1 solution being proposed to whittle down the wait times in security checkpoint lines in the U.S.

But the $85 fee is a deterrent to many travelers.

Now there are some news ways to cover that fee.

Today, Club Carlson, the rewards program for the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, is announcing that, starting July 1, 2016, program members will be able to swap 65,000 points for an authorization code that can be used towards the $85 application fee for five years of TSA PreCheck.

This may be the first hotel rewards program to offer TSA Precheck as a redemption option, but it is unlikely that it will stand alone for long.

There’s another way travelers can use points instead of cash for the TSA PreCheck fee:

Thanks Again, the program that lets travelers earn points for purchases at airports and exchange them for miles, hotel rewards and Visa prepaid cash cards, now allows members to cash-in Thanks Again Points for TSA Pre-Check at airports across the United States.

“We wanted to give consumers a reward option that saves them more than just money,” said Marc Ellis, Thanks Again CEO, “Expedited screening for Thanks Again members will cut-down the time spent in standard security lines and give travelers an enjoyable travel experience from the very beginning of their journey, making it a win for TSA and security overall.”

It will take 4,250 Thanks Again points to get a TSA PreCheck promotion code from the program app to cover the $85 fee.

“I think redeeming frequent flier points or miles for TSA Pre Check fees is an exceptional idea,” said Jay Sorensen of IdeaWorks, “I also know airlines are considering offering this as a perk for their elite tier members.”

What happens if you use your points (under either program) to get a PreCheck promotion code but get denied during the application process?

The policy is the same as if you paid by cash: no refunds.

 

Are TSA PreCheck centers easy-access?

TSA PreCheck Enrollment Center at IND Airport - courtesy TSA

 

No balloons fell from the ceiling last week when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security celebrated the fact that over 500,000 travelers have handed over personal data – and $85 – to join the Transportation Security Administration’s expedited airport screening program since the first public enrollment center opened at Indianapolis International Airport in December 2013.

Today, the Global Gateway Alliance, a group that advocates for improvements at the New York metropolitan area airports, released a report offering TSA advice on how to push the PreCheck enrollment numbers higher.

There are currently about 300 PreCheck application sites nationwide processing, altogether, more than four thousand new applications a day. Twenty-eight of those sites are in airports (LAX and ATL each have two), with many others co-located at pre-existing sites in strip malls, office and industrial parks, and a few chiropractic offices contracted to do credentialing for airport and railroad workers and for truck drivers hauling hazardous materials to and from port facilities.

The range of off-airport sites “makes it easier for the traveling public to apply for TSA PreCheck,” said TSA’s Feinstein. But putting enrollment centers “in places where people actually congregate, which can be conveniently accessed, would raise awareness and participation the program,” the GGA suggests.

In the New York area, the TSA currently has enrollment centers at Terminal C at LaGuardia and in Terminal 4 at JFK. GGA’s report urges TSA to expand throughout area airport terminals “to reach travelers at the point when they are most likely to be thinking about airport security.”

Have you applied for the PreCheck program? How did it go?

(My story about TSA Precheck centers first appeared on USA TODAY).

Sign-ups for TSA PreCheck occur in unusual places

TSA PreCheck Enrollment Center at IND Airport - courtesy TSA

Have you signed up for TSA’s PreCheck program yet? If you do, you may be in for a surprise when you go to the application center to get fingerprinted and have your documents reviewed. Some of the sites are in strange places – as I found out when researching this story for my At the Airport column on USA TODAY.

 

The Transportation Security Administration is dialing down its program of “free samples” for passage through PreCheck lanes at airports.

Soon the only way to way to guarantee the buzz that comes with keeping your shoes on and your laptop and 3-1-1 baggie in your carry-on at the checkpoint will be to pay for it.

You can do that now through one of the Trusted Traveler Programs offered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection or by paying TSA $85 and visiting a designated application center for fingerprinting and document review.

That’s where things can get interesting.

In 2013, TSA adjusted its contract with MorphoTrustUSA to include the operation of what is now more than 300 (and counting) PreCheck application sites. Twenty-eight of those sites are currently in airports (LAX and ATL each have two) but for efficiency, many of the other PreCheck processing sites are in locations where Morpho was already doing credentialing for transportation workers at airports and railroads, and for truck drivers who haul hazardous materials and access port docks.

Penny Watermeier works for a travel management company in Omaha and was sent to an office in a suburban complex to complete her TSA PreCheck application.

“There were three other people there when I went,” said Watermeier, “Two were doing blood samples for the railroad and there was one other PreCheck candidate. I was in and out of the facility in less than 15 minutes and received my known traveler number within 10 days.”

Declaring the process “seamless and painless,” Watermeier also took the opportunity to do some shopping at Costco, which was across the street.

There was no Costco in sight when Bill Chandler and his wife drove from their home, an hour south of the Tallahassee Regional Airport in Florida, to Valdosta, Ga., to complete the TSA PreCheck process.

“We knew a good restaurant in Valdosta, so being retired, we decided to take a two hour drive, do whatever TSA needed and have lunch and come home,” he said via e-mail.

They imagined a nice day trip, but once they pulled up to the address Google maps directed them to, “We could hardly believe what we saw. We thought it was a scam,” said Chandler.

The couple backed out, drove around, checked their coordinates, and determined they were indeed in the right place.

“We walked in and a child was wailing in a back room. My wife went back and checked to see if the child was OK and I got in line with truck drivers getting permits to haul hazardous materials.”

While a bit unconventional, it was no scam.

“The process was easy and the lady was nice and we promptly received our TSA PreCheck approval in the mail,” said Chandler.

A study of sites listed on the Department of Homeland Security Enrollment Center Locator reveals other convenient, but seemingly non-traditional sign-up locations.

In both Knoxville and Johnson City, Tenn., the enrollment center is inside The UPS Store.

Helpful directions for the enrollment center at the River Wall Mall in South Charleston, W.Va., alert drivers to the fact that the mall entrance is “between Burger King and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts” and that they’ll pass a Mattress Warehouse before arriving at the front door.

In Moline, Ill., travelers and truckers mingle with patients in the waiting room of Birdsell Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic.

“We were already doing drug screening and physicals for truck drivers and after sending in some billing we were approached about doing fingerprinting for hazmat and TSA PreCheck,” said company owner Melissa Birdsell in a phone interview between patients.

Because Moline is just a few miles from Davenport, Iowa – the home of a major chiropractic school – the area is densely populated with chiropractors. “So this is a soft way of meeting people in the community, getting some new patients and is better than doing free spinal screenings in the malls,” said Birdsell.

The opportunity to get his company’s services in front of thousands of potential new customers is also what made Mark Hultquist, owner of Computer Renaissance in St. Cloud, Minn., say yes when MorphoTrust came calling in 2008.

“They were moving to computerized fingerprint instead of the old style of fingerprinting with ink and probably approached us because we were a computer store and would be familiar with that technology,” said Hultquist.

Above the fee his company receives for processing PreCheck and other applications, “these programs bring more than 2,000 people a year through our door who would not otherwise even know we exist.”

That cross-promotion of services also works to the advantage of the South Lafourche Library in Cut Off, La., which is located in a former Walmart building that also houses the parish government office that processes PreCheck and other programs used by many of the offshore oil and gas workers that work out of the nearby port.

Although the Enrollment Center Locator points applicants to the library, “our job is to help people and give information, so we’re happy to redirect them to the correct office,” said librarian Katina Gaudet. “But sometimes people who come in here for directions also go home with a library card.”

Since December 2013, when TSA began allowing passengers to passengers to enroll in TSA PreCheck for a fee, close to 475,000 people have signed up, with an additional 4,000 people joining each day, according to the TSA.

TSA PreCheck Enrollment Centers open in DC Area

More in-person centers opened today for those who would like to enroll in the TSA PreCheck program, which offers travelers an expedited trip through airport security checkpoints.

TSA PreCheck Enrollment Center at IND Airport - courtesy TSA

In the DC-metro area, TSA opened pre-enrollment centers at three off-airport locations:

*Alexandria, Va.: Universal Enrollment Center/IdentoGO Center — Alexandria Commons Shopping Center — 3139 Duke St., Alexandria, Va., 22314

*La Plata, Md.: Universal Enrollment Center/IdentoGO Center — White Plains Corporate Business Park — 10665 Stanhaen Place, Suite 300A, White Plains, Md., 20695

* Dundalk, Md: Universal Enrollment Center/IdentoGO Center— Point Breeze Business Center — 2200 Broening Highway, Suite 110, Baltimore, Md., 21224

Earlier this month TSA opened the first PreCheck Enrollment center at Indianapolis International Airport (IND). The agency plans to open additional centers in the LA and NY-metro areas by the end of this year and more than 300 centers around the country during 2014.