TSA continues to expand traveler programs and work through data hiccups.
Officials said two of the Department of Homeland Security's trusted traveler programs have reached significant enrollment milestones.
On Aug. 26, DHS announced that half a million people have signed up for the Transportation Security Administration's PreCheck direct application program. Additionally, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has enrolled more than 3 million users in its Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI trusted traveler programs.
TSA has been steadily expanding the portion of PreCheck that allows travelers to apply directly to TSA instead of through airlines' frequent flier programs or through other federal programs, such as CPB's NEXUS. PreCheck allows pre-approved low-risk travelers to pass through security checkpoints more quickly via dedicated screening lanes without having to remove their shoes, coats or belts, or pull laptops out of their carry-on bags.
TSA's direct application program, which began in December 2013, allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to enroll in the program for $85. Once approved, travelers are assigned a Known Traveler Number and can use the dedicated security lanes at airports if they fly on one of the U.S. carriers that participate in the program.
The program has seen some hiccups as it expands, however. In June, TSA Press Secretary Ross Feinstein said data fields are sometimes mismatched in the information submitted by airlines and travel agents -- for instance, data is entered in the wrong slot -- which prevents the KTN from being transmitted to TSA correctly and keeps travelers from accessing the PreCheck lanes at airports. Feinstein advised travelers to contact airlines or travel agents to correct the data.
The program is available at 118 U.S. airports for participants in frequent flier programs with Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America.
CBP's Global Entry program, meanwhile, speeds international travelers through U.S. customs checks at U.S. airports via automated kiosks. According to DHS officials, the program has more than 70,000 new applicants each month. Launched in 2008 as a pilot project, Global Entry is now a permanent program with 51 locations in the U.S. and at CBP preclearance stations in Canada. Those locations serve 99 percent of incoming travelers to the U.S., DHS officials said.
The NEXUS program allows accelerated, prescreened processing of travelers into the U.S. from Canada at U.S. ports of entry, while SENTRI does the same on the southern border for travelers from Mexico. Participants in both programs receive KTNs, making them eligible for PreCheck without filing a separate application, DHS officials said.