Select travelers at 35 of the nation's busiest airports will soon be able to keep their shoes on and their computers in their bags when they go through security.
The federal government announced today that it will expand an expedited check-in program called Pre-Check, now used by 310,000 travelers at seven major airports, to 28 more sites, including JFK, O'Hare and D.C.'s Reagan National, by the end of 2012.
Passengers who enroll in Pre-Check, run by the Transportation Security Administration, do not have to remove shoes or belts, can keep their computers in their bags, may keep three-ounce containers of gel or shampoo in their carry-on luggage, and may wear a light jacket.
Pre-Check will be operating at Reagan National by the end of March, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who called the expansion of the program "part of a fundamental shift in how we approach aviation security."
"Immediately after the attacks of 9/11, we simply did not have the information and analytic capability to identify travelers who posed the greatest potential risk and so we had to take a one-size-fits-all approach." Napolitano said during a press conference this morning at Reagan National. "Our experience over the past several years has made us smarter about the evolving threats we face and how best to deal with them."
Pre-Check prescreens passengers before they arrive at the security checkpoint. Members of the program will be identified via the bar code on their boarding passes. They will be steered to a dedicated line -- a sort of E-ZPass lane for fliers -- for quicker passage through security.
The Pre-Check program is already being used by American Airlines frequent flyers at the Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Los Angeles airports, and by Delta passengers in Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas and Minneapolis.
The 28 additional airports expected to be part of the Pre-Check program by 2012 include all three D.C. area airports, all three New York City airports, O'Hare, Boston Logan, Seattle-Tacoma, Phoenix, San Francisco, New Orleans, San Juan, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Portland (PDX), Tampa, Salt Lake City, Honolulu, San Juan, Anchorage, Orlando, St. Louis, Houston (IAH), Indianapolis, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale and St. Louis.