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TSA opens enrollment centers for expedited airport security program

A program intended to zip you through airport security lines will expand in the Washington area Monday as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) opens three enrollment centers.

It’s all part of TSA administrator John S. Pistole’s drive to lessen the burden and focus on average passengers so that TSA security workers can spend more of their energy looking for people who pose a genuine threat. Travelers who use the TSA’s Pre-Check program get to keep their shoes, belts and sweaters on and do not have to pull their laptops from cases or display their plastic bags of liquids as they hustle through special airport checkpoints. Their carry-on luggage still passes through X-ray machines, and they still must step through metal detectors.

Enrollment in the program begins online, and once that part is complete, applicants proceed to one of the centers to finish it. The TSA says someone who shows up at an enrollment center will spend about 10 minutes (not counting any wait time) signing up for the program. It requires a background check, fingerprints and an $85 fee for a five-year enrollment. A passport, required for some other programs, is not necessary, but verification of identity and citizenship or approved immigrant status is.

The TSA says that more than 25 million fliers have used the security program since its soft rollout in 2011. Once an application is approved, passengers will receive a Known Traveler Number that makes them eligible to use expedited security lines in more than 100 airports and on nine airlines including: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America.

The three centers in the Washington area are in Alexandria at 3139 Duke St., below the Lone Star Steakhouse; in La Plata in the White Plains Corporate Business Park, 10665 Stanhaen Place, Suite 300A; and in Dundalk at the Point Breeze Business Center, 2200 Broening Highway, Suite 110.