Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

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March 21, 2014
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PreCheck program sign up extended

There’s still time to enroll in the Transportation Security Administration PreCheck program to ease security checkpoint waiting times. The application process was extended another week at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, so applicants can still visit the airport next week from March 24-28 to apply.

The program allows qualified passengers to avoid waiting in the regular security check-in lines and instead access the designated TSA PreCheck line. Enrollment cost is $85 and covers a five-year membership in the program.

TSA PreCheck travelers will not have to remove their shoes, belts or lightweight jackets, or have to remove their laptops or small quantities of liquids, gels, and aerosols from carry-on luggage. They’ll be able to access expedited security screening in a separate, and likely shorter, security line at participating airports.

“This program provides a great advantage from our airport, regardless of where a person is traveling,” said Jim Elwood, the airport’s director of aviation. “It’ll make the check-in process simple and easy for the next five years for those who qualify. Our airport only has space for two check-in lines. If we can get up to 50 percent of our travelers to sign up for the PreCheck and that line moves twice as fast as the regular check-in line, in effect it will give us the same capacity as having three lines.”

Pitkin County Commissioner Rob Ittner recently signed up for PreCheck. Ittner said he takes about eight to 10 flights a year and begins most of his travels from the Aspen airport. He said the sign-up process took about 15 minutes to complete.

“They only asked a few questions,” he said. “They asked if I had been a felon, fingerprinted me and scanned my passport. It wasn’t a difficult process. Now, when an airline prints my boarding pass, it’ll be notated on the pass that I’m PreCheck qualified. Most major airlines take part in the program. Even if every traveler signed up for the program, it would still be worth it to me as the processing times for people will be faster.”

Aspen resident Johnny Walker signed up for the PreCheck program online and didn’t have to supply as much information because he’s already a member of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection trusted-traveler program called Global Entry. He’s also a million-mile club member through United Airlines and can access a special check-in line for those members, but said he already prefers the PreCheck program.

“I couldn’t believe how easy it was to go through security at Denver International Airport with PreCheck,” he said. “This program is going to save folks a lot of time, especially in larger, more crowded airports. Since I travel so much, a program like this is almost a requirement because, like more Americans, I hate waiting in any line.”

To begin the TSA PreCheck enrollment process, travelers are directed to www.aspenairport.com to find out how to apply online and make an in-person appointment at the airport.

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com


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