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TSA opening Pre-Check enrollment center at McCarran

The Transportation Security Administration has opened an enrollment center at McCarran International Airport for passengers to sign up for Pre-Check, a program that enables trusted travelers to move through TSA security lines faster.

Pre-Check enrollees have separate lines at McCarran checkpoints, and passengers don’t have to remove their shoes, belts or outerwear when they use them. Passengers also don’t have to remove their laptop computers from their bags or display their plastic toiletry bags.

Passengers in the fast lane usually pass through a metal-detection arch instead of a full-body scanner.

The new enrollment center is in an office just off the corridor to McCarran’s C and D gates checkpoint. Passengers who bring the proper documents to enroll — government-issued identification cards, passports, citizenship or immigration documents — could receive clearance to participate with a Known Traveler Number within 10 minutes. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Enrollees pay $85 to use the program for five years. The TSA also offers enrollment at the Universal Enrollment Services office at 2080 E. Flamingo Road but is opening at McCarran as a convenience to passengers.

“During the application process, travelers will provide basic biographical information about themselves,” said Karen Burke, the TSA’s federal security director at McCarran. “TSA uses that information to pre-screen applicants and, if approved, they become eligible for expedited screening at any of the 177 airports where TSA Pre-Check is offered.”

The TSA introduced Pre-Check at McCarran in 2012 and upgraded it last year. Today, nine airlines are part of the program, including Southwest, American, Delta, United, US Airways, Virgin America, Alaska, JetBlue and Hawaiian airlines, which collectively provide about 80 percent of the seats into the Las Vegas market.

The enrollment process is relatively simple. Prospective enrollees can complete an application on the TSA’s website, make an appointment at the Universal Enrollment Services office or appear as a walk-in at the airport office. Once an enrollment officer verifies identification documents, fingerprints and thumbprints are scanned. Those prints are checked against various law-enforcement databases before a Known Traveler Number is issued.

Persons convicted of or found innocent by reason of insanity of certain felony criminal offenses are disqualified from participation. Among the dis­qualifying offenses are espionage, terrorism, unlawful possession of explosives, arson, racketeering, bribery, extortion, smuggling and immigration violations.

A passenger’s Known Traveler Number becomes a part of a traveler’s customer profile and is embedded in airline records, and notification of eligibility usually is marked on a flight boarding pass.

Earlier this year, the TSA also began a program of randomly selecting passengers on flights on participating airlines to use Pre-Check. Selected passengers will see “TSA PRE” or “TSA PRECHK” printed in the top right corner of their boarding passes.

The TSA also has cautioned that just because individuals have enrolled for Pre-Check or are randomly selected to participate on designated flights doesn’t mean they’ll be able to use the expedited line at the checkpoint.

The agency can pull passengers out of the line for more thorough searches, metal detection or illegal substance checks. But TSA officials say that rarely occurs.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow him on Twitter @RickVelotta.

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