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Free pass for military through PreCheck lines

Jordan Crawford | 12/30/2013, 12:41 p.m.

The numerous advantages of military membership are always cited to people teetering on the decision of whether or not to join. Now, yet another concession will be made for those brave men and women who defend our country.

It was the least we could do for our armed forces, said Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials.

Last Thursday the agency announced that all active-duty and reserve personnel - some 2.6 million people - are now eligible for expedited security lines at more than 100 participating airports, including Norfolk International.

In the past, members of the military could use the PreCheck lines by presenting their Common Access Card at only 10 participating airports.

The TSA’s PreCheck program allows travelers to go through without removing their shoes, light coats, laptops or small bags of toiletries. In September the agency announced that it was opening the program to the public for an $85 application fee.

There’s no charge for the military. All service members, including National Guard members, are covered as long as they supply their Department of Defense ID numbers when reserving flights. Upon arrival, they will be able to move to the front of the line.

Those who already have reservations must work through their airlines to get their IDs entered, said Mark Howell, a TSA spokesman.

“I always go back home to Texas every Christmas,” said Army active duty member Shavonda McDuffie. “I am very thankful for this. I’m sure all active duty members will be thankful.”

Service members do not have to be in uniform or on military-related travel to participate in PreCheck. Family members ages 12 and under traveling with an eligible service member can also participate in expedited screening as well. However, family members 13 and older must go through standard security lanes or must apply for the Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Traveler program for TSA PreCheck eligibility.

In 2012, more than 1 in 10 travelers flying through Norfolk International were active-duty military or a dependent, said Robert Bowen, the deputy executive director.