The Beginning of the End for TSA PreCheck? Will it Be Needed Soon with New Technology?

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TSA PreCheck is a must for even semi-frequent travelers. But with TSA’s new, high tech CT scanners at nearly 20 major airports, could PreCheck be on the way out? Or at least become much less necessary?

Fellow BoardingArea blogger, The Flight Detective detailed the new 3-D scanners that allow passengers to keep liquids and laptops in carry-ons while going through security.

The agency explains:

TSA’s current screening technology for carry-on bags uses 2-D images.

The CT technology applies sophisticated algorithms for the detection of explosives and other threats by creating a 3-D image that can be viewed and rotated 360 degrees for a thorough analysis.

Like existing CT technology used for checked baggage, the machines create such a clear picture of a bag’s contents that computers can automatically detect explosives, including liquids.

In the future, the goal is to keep laptops and 3-1-1 liquids inside of the bag during checkpoint screening. Under current screening procedures for this technology, laptops are allowed to remain inside the bag for screening.

Leaving laptops and liquids in carry-ons is a major perk of TSA PreCheck. But if we’ll no longer have to remove those items — and, clearly, that day is coming — will PreCheck even be necessary?

TSA security checkpoint at LAX Terminal 7.

What Is the Future of PreCheck?

3-D technology could very well streamline everything and eliminate the need for PreCheck.

I like that, though. Expeditious and quality basic security shouldn’t be limited to a certain group of travelers on the same flights as everyone else. No matter who’s in which line — PreCheck or not — the TSA is famous for failing 95% of the time to find weapons during tests. Hopefully, the new technology will bring that number to something more acceptable — like 0%. And it would be nice if more money and time were spent on hiring and training agents more of us trust — and so incidents like this one don’t happen.

So will PreCheck function as a paid “FastPass” for airport security, more akin to CLEAR? Or will it continue to offer “members only” benefits? There’s still the matter of removing shoes and light jackets. When — if ever — will that be phased out?

Until then, those of us who fly dozens of round-trips each year certainly will save some hassle keeping PreCheck. Plus, not every airport has 3-D CT technology yet.

Maybe I’m putting too much hope in the government — and a department that hasn’t exactly won favor with many of us travelers.

“The ‘Regular’ Line is Shorter Than the PreCheck Line!”

How many times have you experienced — or at least heard about — a standard/non-PreCheck screening queue shorter than its PreCheck counterpart? Maybe I visit airports at the wrong time but it’s happened to me several times. Plenty of people have figured out that PreCheck isn’t limited to elite frequent flyers or the mega-rich. It’s open to anyone who qualifies and passes the background check. Thanks to several travel credit cards that credit TSA PreCheck and Global Entry (which includes PreCheck) application fees, many people don’t even pay for the service.

3D CT Airports

In case you’re curious, the airports utilizing CT scanners at checkpoints are:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  • Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)
  • Houston Hobby Airport (HOU)
  • Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Miami International Airport (MIA)
  • Oakland International Airport (OAK)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
  • St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL)
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA)
  • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)
WASHINGTON, DC JULY 3, 2018: TSA Precheck and Global Entry line at security checkpoint at Reagan National Airport

The TSA PreCheck security checkpoint at Reagan National Airport (DCA). (Photo: © Tran)

Tell Us Your Thoughts

Is PreCheck doomed? Have you seen or experienced one of the new 3-D CT scanners yet? Share your thoughts in the Comment section below. – Chris


PS – On a side note, don’t forget about Mobile Passport as a quick way to enter the USA if you do not have Global Entry!