TSA opening temporary PreCheck enrollment center in Chicago

  • Next week, the TSA opens up a temporary office for people who want to enroll in its PreCheck trusted traveler program and avoid screening delays.

    Next week, the TSA opens up a temporary office for people who want to enroll in its PreCheck trusted traveler program and avoid screening delays. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 7/19/2016 4:45 PM

If you've delayed applying for a trusted traveler program intended to speed fliers through airport security lines, now's the time.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will open a temporary enrollment center next week near Midway International Airport, and currently spots are open for the requisite in-person appointments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Public outrage boiled over in May when lines for TSA screening lasting two to three hours caused thousands to miss flights. The government's response was to urge people to enroll in its PreCheck program, which lets preapproved passengers save time by avoiding precautions such as removing shoes or belts and showing laptops or toiletry bags to screeners.

But long waits for in-person appointments have deterred some fliers, and Sen. Dick Durbin urged TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger to expedite the process during a news conference in May.

In response to the demand, the TSA will operate a temporary center from July 26 to 30 at the Hyatt Place Midway, 6550 Cicero Ave., Chicago. People seeking PreCheck status should first fill out an application online at tsa.gov/precheck and then schedule an in-person appointment for fingerprinting and verification of identification. That information is then scrutinized by the FBI.

"Even if your trip is planned for late summer or early September, it's likely you could enroll in time," TSA spokesman Michael McCarthy said. Typical applicants could receive the "known traveler number" that designates PreCheck members within 30 days, although it could stretch to 45 days.

The application fee is $85 and is good for five years. For more information, visit tsa.gov/precheck.

After the outcry over delays, the TSA also added more screeners and bomb-sniffing dogs. On May 14, the average security line wait was 104 minutes at peak times at O'Hare International Airport; it dropped to nine minutes as of July 3. At Midway, the average wait was 65 minutes at peak times on May 14; it decreased to 12 minutes as of July 3.

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