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New screening system speeds passengers at Tampa Airport

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 08:16 PM
TAMPA -

If Tuesday was any indication, travelers using the new expedited screening system at Tampa International Airport will be able to move through security in three or four minutes and without the hassle of removing shoes and belts.

Delta Air Lines passengers eligible to use the Transportation Security Administration's PreCheck lane spent less than 60 seconds to be directed to and through the first checkpoint, where their flight documents and identification were scrutinized.

TSA PreCheck passengers then passed through the customary individual detection devices and submitted their carry-ons to screening detectors. That line moved quickly as well in the program's first day of operation at the Tampa airport.

"This is excellent," said Sarasota resident Eric Lee, who was headed to Detroit on Delta. "This can help a great deal."

Lee flies twice a week and is a Delta frequent-flyer, which made him eligible for the program. He was surprised to find the system in operation at Tampa International, where a TSA officer at the initial checkpoint at Airside E directed him to the proper lane for quick screening.

By 10:30 a.m., more than 230 Delta passengers departing Tampa had used TSA PreCheck, said Gary Milano, TSA's Tampa federal security director.

TSA officials expect more than 600 Delta passengers a day among 4,500 daily Airside E passengers will use the new screening process in Tampa.

So far, Delta is the only one using the system at Tampa International Airport, but other airlines are expected to join. TSA PreCheck is available at 17 airports across the nation.

Passengers can qualify in two ways: Delta frequent flyers have been notified about the program and can participate at no charge and have their boarding passes coded for entry. Their backgrounds are checked to ensure they meet TSA security standards for low-risk passengers.

Those who are not frequent flyers can join the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Global Entry program, which requires a personal interview with a Custom's officer and a $100 fee.

tjackovics@tampatrib.com


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