Southwest joins TSA Pre-Check

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Southwest Airlines has joined the Transportation Security Administration’s Pre-Check known traveler program, the company announced this week.

The TSA has touted the Pre-Check program, which allows fliers to volunteer information in exchange for the possibility of receiving expedited screening, as a sea change in its approach to airport security.   

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said his airline's passengers would feel the difference right away.

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“We carry more customers in the U.S. than any other airline, and they are going to love the benefits of TSA Pre Check," Kelly said in a statement. "TSA Pre Check is convenient, it saves customers time, and it enhances the overall Customer Experience — something we are always striving to do at Southwest Airlines."

TSA has identified its Pre-Check program as part of its move toward a “risk-based” security approach, instead of its controversial one-sized-fits-all techniques like X-ray scanners and pat-down hand searches. 

Southwest’s entry into the TSA Pre-Check program was cheered by travel groups as a major improvement in the U.S. aviation industry.

“I’d like to congratulate Southwest Airlines on becoming the eighth U.S. airline to extend Pre-Check eligibility to its frequent-flyer members, and to thank the Department of Homeland Security and TSA for continuing to aggressively expand this program that so clearly benefits travel consumers,” U.S. Travel Association President Roger Dow said in a statement.

“The recent trend in federal aviation policy has been decidedly pro-traveler, and the more people travel, the better it is for U.S. economic and job growth,” Dow continued. “Pre-Check is a prime example of the innovative policies — Global Entry, Visa Waiver and Automated Passport Control are others — that are making travel easier for the public while still maintaining the optimum security standards that always need to be our top priority."

The TSA announced earlier this year that would allow passengers to sign up for Pre-Check for a fee of $85.