Why were Thanksgiving security lines at PBIA so short? Has a lot to do with this

Travelers flying out of Palm Beach International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday may have noticed something they aren’t used to seeing at other airports: swift-moving Transportation Security Administration checkpoint lines.

That could be because more than 50 percent of those boarding flights at PBIA had TSA PreCheck, a process where travelers pay an $85 application fee to be prescreened for flights so they don’t have to remove their belts, shoes and jackets or remove laptops or other large electronics from carry-on bags at checkpoints.

Travelers go through the TSA PreCheck security point at Miami International Airport on June 2, 2016 in Miami. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Travelers go through the TSA PreCheck security point at Miami International Airport on June 2, 2016 in Miami. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said PBIA’s rate of PreCheck travelers is a good 10 percent higher than the national average.

“It’s just good news,” she said via phone last week. “It keeps the lines moving for those travelers.”

The $85 PreCheck fee pays for fingerprinting and background checks. Upon approval for PreCheck — which can take anywhere from a day to a week — a Known Traveler Number is issued, which is entered when booking future flights for the next five years. When travelers check in, their board passes will say “TSA PreCheck,” and they will be sent to a shorter line.

In October, 97 percent of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes at a checkpoint, the TSA said.

Koshetz said one factor that might be behind the high number of PreCheck users at PBIA: The airport has a screening site built into it. And although PreCheck isn’t able to be used automatically, passengers can sign up while waiting to board a flight and may have their approval in time to add it to their return trip.

About 29,000 people have signed up for PreCheck at PBIA since the screening site opened there in June 2014, Koshetz said.

It’s an “indication of a great partnership” between the airport, the TSA and MorphoTrust, the vendor that conducts the background checks for the TSA, Koshetz said.

Though the security line may be short, Koshetz cautions travelers to always build in enough time for any intra-airport transportation that might need to take place, whether it’s just walking to your terminal or your need to catch a shuttle or take a rail line.

Check out five tips to get your TSA PreCheck from someone who’s been through the process.

 

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