Spokane airline travelers tired of long security lines now have a local office to enroll in a TSA program for expedited screening.
The Transportation Security Administration has opened an office in Spokane Valley where travelers can go to show proof of identity and to be fingerprinted for a background check. If they pass, they’ll be issued a Known Traveler Number, which gives them access to TSA’s PreCheck lines at 118 airports around the country, including Spokane.
The credentialing costs $85 and is good for five years.
It allows travelers to skip taking off their shoes, belts, and light sweaters or jackets when going through airport security. At some airports, people in the PreCheck line also can leave their laptop in its case and liquids or gels in a carry-on.
Until now, Spokane-area travelers had to go to an enrollment office in another city such as Seattle.
The local enrollment office is in a strip mall at 12510 E. Sprague Ave., about a block east of Pines Road. It’s co-located with Absolute Drug Testing, which contracts with TSA.
While the Spokane airport typically doesn’t have long screening lines, other airports do – sometimes taking an hour or more to navigate without PreCheck.
Jay Lake, an investment adviser from Spokane, was at the office Wednesday finishing up his enrollment.
He said he frequently travels for business and decided that getting a Known Traveler Number would be worth the effort and cost so he could save time on his trips.
“You get stuck in some long lines in bigger cities,” he said.
The office opened about a month ago, and travelers searching online already have discovered the new location. On Tuesday, the office reported about 30 walk-in clients for PreCheck.
Lorie Dankers, TSA regional spokeswoman, said even though the security check is easier for travelers, a security check is being done just the same.
TSA describes the program as a “risk-based, intelligence-driven approach to aviation security.”
“It’s so quick to go through security. You still are screened,” Dankers said.
TSA recommends that passengers begin by pre-enrolling at universalenroll.dhs.gov and using the TSA PreCheck section of the Web page.
The process requires an in-person visit to an enrollment office to verify citizenship. A variety of identification documents can be used such as a passport, driver’s license or birth certificate. Details of identification requirements are available online.
The 15-minute appointments can be scheduled online. The average appointment takes about eight minutes. Walk-in appointments are available and can be done quickly as well, Dankers said.
She said to make sure your name and personal information are consistently the same among PreCheck, frequent-flier programs and airline reservations. Also, be sure to enter the Known Traveler Number on your airline reservation form so it shows up on your boarding pass.