New TSA Program Speeds Screening at LAX

LAX is one test airport for "TSA PreCheck"

By Patrick Healy and Bill French
|  Thursday, Jan 19, 2012  |  Updated 2:35 PM PDT
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LAX now offers the new TSA Precheck Program. But it's only available on a limited basis for now, and it may cost you $100 to get in

Patrick Healy and Kevin Dahlgren

LAX now offers the new TSA Precheck Program. But it's only available on a limited basis for now, and it may cost you $100 to get in

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Zipping through airport security in a breeze is a dream for millions of travelers. But for some, it's now a reality.

"This is fabulous, just fabulous," said frequent flyer Lynn Riley.

"I travel all the time," said business traveler Skip Zimbalist. "It's a great innovation."

Zimbalist said he never got used to the time consuming security ritual of waiting in line to take off his jacket, belt and shoes, and opening up his laptop cases. He tried the Clear Priority program some airports offered for a fee.  But now, a similar program can be free in some cases.

"What took so long," Zimbalist wondered. "I'm glad it's here."

The Transportation Security Administration calls it Precheck. It's intended mainly for frequent flyers. You pre-register, so your background can be checked. A special bar code on your boarding pass tells the screener you're in the program.

"We think this expedited screening makes the process more efficient for everyone who goes through screening," said TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers.

Los Angeles International Airport is the sixth U.S. airport to offer Precheck. Right now, at LAX, it's only available for travelers on American Airlines

Delta is offering the same option in Atlanta, and other airports. The TSA began rolling out the pilot program last fall, not just to help travelers, but to enable it to focus resources on more likely terror risks.

The TSA says, so far,  Precheck has processed a quarter-million travelers, without any mistakes.

"We thinking it's working really well and we hope to expand," says Dankers.

The easiest way to get in is to fly a lot, and be invited by the airline to join. American Airlines says 100,000 of its frequent fliers have done just that.

If you don't get an invitation, there's another option. You can go online to Global Entry.gov
and go through an application process that charges a $100 fee.

Global entry was designed for international travelers, but now,  for domestic flights it's also providing a way into Precheck.

Let us know what you think. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.

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