SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- Attention travelers who want to keep their shoes, belts and light jackets on and their laptops in their cases when preparing to board commercial airliners: The Transportation Security Administration may have a plan for you.
The TSA Pre-Check Application Program opened an application center in South Charleston's River Walk shopping center on Wednesday, one of 300 such centers the agency plans to open nationwide this year.
"We realize that most passengers are inherently a low risk" for safety concerns, said TSA spokesman James McKinney, who was on hand for the South Charleston center's opening. The new Pre-Check system helps TSA personnel identify low-risk passengers "so we can "focus on passengers we know less," McKinney said.
Pre-Check applicants first go through an online pre-enrollment process at www.tsa.gov. There, after supplying basic information, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can make appointments to complete enrollment at the nearest Pre-Check center. At Pre-Check centers like the one in South Charleston, passengers who have pre-enrolled online provide TSA contract workers with identity and citizenship documents, have their fingerprints scanned, and pony up $85 for a five-year enrollment.
"The process generally takes from 9 to 12 minutes," McKinney said.
If documentation is in order and a background check is cleared, applicants can go online five days after appearing at a Pre-Check center to learn if their applications were accepted.
Once an application is approved, a letter containing a Known Traveler Number is mailed to the applicant two to three weeks after visiting the center.
Known Traveler Numbers are used when flights are booked. The number is embedded in bar codes on boarding passes. When boarding passes are scanned at TSA airport checkpoints, travelers are directed to a Pre-Check line, in which full-body scans are bypassed, along with belt and shoe removal. Known Travelers can also keep 3-1-1 compliant bags containing liquids and gels in their carryon bags.