Pre-Check enrollment numbers continue to take off at Sky Harbor

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TSA's Pre-Check program is getting more popular every year. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) TSA's Pre-Check program is getting more popular every year. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
The Pre-Check program costs $85 for five years. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The Pre-Check program costs $85 for five years. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Participants in the Pre-Check program don't have to take off their belts or shoes. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Participants in the Pre-Check program don't have to take off their belts or shoes. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The crazy chaos of the holidays always lands massive crowds at the airport.

“We expect to see some 50,000-plus days, which are big days for Phoenix,” said Jose Salinas, the federal security director for TSA at Sky Harbor.

Big days for the airlines means long lines for passengers.

[RELATED: Holiday travelers clog Arizona roads, airport]

June describes the experience.

“Last time it was like a block and a half,” she said.

“It varies by day. We have very good data that lets us know how to set the lanes up,” said Salinas.

He says TSA’s Pre-Check program has been taking off across the country.

“From last year to this year, we've essentially doubled our Pre-Check enrollment from 2 million to 4 million,” said Salinas.

Those Pre-Check passengers get to bypass the regular security lines, and with their own lanes, there’s less wait – an average of five minutes – and less hassle getting through the metal detectors.

“The best part about Pre-Check is that you don't have to worry about all those items you have to take out of all your bags,” said Phil, who’s been a member of the Pre-Check program for a couple of years.  

Flyers get to keep their shoes and belt on, and their light outerwear. They also don’t have to remove their 3-1-1 liquids or their laptops from their bags.

“It's one of the few government things that does seem to work well,” said Phil.

The cost of the program is $85 for five years.

Many people believe $17 a year to fly through the fast lane is worth it.

But there is another price to pay, and it deals with privacy.

“We're able to go a little bit faster because now we're dealing with a passenger that we know,” said Salinas.

Dealing with a passenger the federal agency knows starts with a few personal questions online, such as where the applicant was born and if they have a criminal record. Then there’s an appointment at a Pre-Check enrollment center, where the applicant answers a few more questions and gets fingerprinted.  

There's one at Sky Harbor next to baggage claim.

Giving up personal information in exchange for convenience isn't a big deal to some flyers.

“Small price to pay,” said June.

After a background check confirming an applicant’s information, most people will get their approval in the mail within two to three weeks. It contains their nine-digit “known traveler number,” allowing them to speed through security.

“Simple to get approved. I suggest everybody do it. Well, not everybody, because then they'll be in line ahead of me,” joked Phil.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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