Does TSA Pre-Check really save time?

(WTNH / George Roelefsen)

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WTNH) — Air travelers should expect longer lines at airports this summer, and the reason why may have something to do with a program that began just four years ago.

The Transportation Security Administration‘s Pre-Check program began just four years ago. The program allows passengers to go through an “express lane” at the security check point after going through a background check and being declared a “low risk” traveler.

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The program not only saves time, in theory, for someone who is traveling, but it also saves time for the TSA. That express lane was designed to scan roughly 300 passengers per hour. That amount is nearly twice the amount of the standard line.

So what is the problem? Not enough people have enrolled in that Pre-Check program. To make matters worse, over the course of the last three years, the TSA cut airport screeners by 10-percent because they figured the Pre-Check program would speed up the process.

The agency then tried fix the issue by randomly placing passengers into the express lanes at the security check point. That didn’t last long over worries that a passenger who doesn’t qualify for the express check would get through. At one point, the wait got up to 90-minutes, with some people missing their flights.

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With less screeners at some airports, that means the wait time at security could go up as airports see more passengers. For local travelers, the odds are Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks will be OK in all of this, although passengers may see some back-ups and longer waits from time-to-time.

However, these cuts and increased passengers are really expected to impact the larger airports that have a high volume of travelers, such as JFK in New York, Newark Liberty in New Jersey, and Boston’s Logan Airport.

So what should you be doing if you’re expected to fly? It’s something you’ve heard for years. Get to the airport early.

The airlines say at least two hours before your flight, even if it’s a domestic flight. The last thing you want is to be stuck in the security line as your plane is backing away from the gate.

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