Dodging the crowds: Chattanooga air travelers can join pre-screening effort

Dodging the crowds: Chattanooga air travelers can join pre-screening effort

March 8th, 2014 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Atlanta resident Patrick Neely breezes through TSA security at the Chattanooga Metropolitian Airport Friday as he travels several southeast cities on his job this past week. Neely is one of a growing number of people who have chosen to pay for expedited screening.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

Patrick Neely says he flies a lot for his work - upwards of 200,000 miles a year.

So when the chance opened up to enroll in a Transportation Security Administration program that allows him to more quickly pass though security checkpoints at airports, he jumped at it.

"Having that luxury is really nice. Big time," the Atlanta man said Friday at Chattanooga Airport.

A new office opened in Chattanooga by the TSA to enroll travelers in its pre-check program should draw a lot more users of Lovell Field, said Mark Howell, a regional spokesman for the agency. The program permits fliers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and even have some liquids and gels in a carry-on bag.

Currently, about 38 percent of all fliers who travel through Chattanooga Airport are approved for expedited screening, Howell said.

"We expect that number to rise," he said.

Terry Hart, the Chattanooga Airport's chief executive, said officials know customers choose to fly out of Lovell Field because it's a convenient option. Hart said expedited screening for customers will make getting through the checkpoint in the airport even faster.

"We applaud TSA for looking for ways to improve the customer experience," he said.

The new office to enroll in the pre-check program is located in the Sportsman's Warehouse shopping center, 6231 Perimeter Dr., Suite 177.

According to TSA, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can go through a pre-enrollment process online at www.TSA.gov. There, they can make an appointment and complete their enrollment at the Chattanooga application center to verify their identity, present documentation to confirm their citizenship and immigration status and provide fingerprints, TSA said. The fee is $85.

Howell said travelers will receive a letter usually within 10 business days with a "known traveler number." When they book a flight, they or their travel agent need to plug in the number, which will show up when the boarding pass is printed out, he said. The number is valid for five years.

Howell said TSA has 225 pre-check sites open countrywide so far at it aims for 300 application centers.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.