Why isn’t popular PreCheck at SFO?

Map of TSA PreCheck locations across the US. What’s missing from this picture?

By now every frequent traveler has heard about the TSA’s innovative and very popular PreCheck trusted traveler program.

In a nutshell, PreCheck offers certain high mileage frequent flyers access to special, faster lanes at airport security that do not require them to remove their shoes, belts or coats, or take their laptops out of their bags for screening. (When I was chosen to pass through a PreCheck line last summer in Atlanta, the process reminded me of pre-9/11 security… a breeze. I was through in less than a minute and walked away with a big smile on my face.)

The introduction of the speedy new PreCheck lanes has been one of the best things the TSA has ever done for frequent travelers. It has been a roaring success in terms of passenger satisfaction as well as PR for the frequently maligned agency. To date, 3 million travelers have passed through PreCheck lanes at 26 airports across the country– the most recent addition is United’s hub at Washington-Dulles. It’s also at United hubs in Newark (C3), Houston and  Chicago. Even LAX has it!

There’s only one problem: Not a single Bay Area airport has PreCheck yet.

Why not? Well, it’s been tough for me to get a good answer from the airport or the TSA… and I’ve been asking and asking ever since the program rolled out last year. I’ve been hearing from TravelSkills reader, too wondering why we don’t have it at a major hub airport like SFO or even OAK or SJC.

Last week I got a hopeful response from SFO spokesperson Mike McCarron: “It is ultimately up to the airlines to work out the arrangement with the TSA.  From what we understand, PreCheck should start showing up with United and Delta about mid-November.” All the TSA will say is that it “will be in 35 airports by the end of 2012.”

Virgin America spokesperson Abby Lunardini told TravelSkills, “We’re in discussions with TSA and are supportive of program and hope we can offer to Virgin America’s T2 guests in the near future — but there is no definitive roll out date yet.”

So there you have it…. I guess we’ll just have to sit back and wait our turn. Stay tuned to TravelSkills for updates and a big announcement when PreCheck finally arrives– hopefully this November.

Have you enjoyed PreCheck at other airports? Have you used CLEAR lanes at SFO yet? Are you finding airport security a bit more manageable now that the summer crowds have gone home? Please leave your comments below. 

>Chris McGinnis

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  • Ron Garrity

    The TSA link provided leads to page with a PDF chart of available PreCheck locations. That chart now lists AA at SFO Terminal 2 and United at Terminal 3 as “coming soon.” At least some official guidance that help is on the way.

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  • SFO Snow

    Yes, it is interesting that PreCheck is coming late to SFO and DEN, where Clear operates–but it seems that it is coming. Having experienced both, I’d say PreCheck is fa better. Both give you a faster (for now) alternative to the documentation check line. But PreCheck is far better after that, since Clear sends you on to the usual lines where you remove your shoes, computer, baggie of liquids, etc.–while PreCheck allows you to leave your items packed and walk through a dedicated scanner with shoes on. Delightful blast from the past!

  • Laurence

    I love CLEAR lane, and I’m wondering how it would work together with PreCheck.

    One thing I find curious is this idea that you’re ‘selected’ for PreCheck on a semi-randomized basis. The one time that I tried to use it in LAX, I wasn’t selected. So, you can’t ‘plan’ on using PreCheck. You can’t arrive at the airport later than you usually would, since you can’t bank on using it. It sounds like a great experience, but it’s not a time saver.

    That’s what I like about the CLEAR lane – I can rely on using it every time. And even with the usual security screening, it never takes more than a few minutes after using the CLEAR lane.

  • Hugo Traeger

    I have been using CLEAR for a few months now and it’s fantastic. Cuts my security line time down to zero.

  • Will

    As a UAL FF I’ve only experienced the PreCheck line once, at SEA. It was in fact a breeze. I flew out of IAD last week and did not see or was offered the PreCheck line. Flew out of IAH on Wednesday. PreCheck lane is up and running in Term C, but not in Term E

  • Tech Trainer

    Interesting that TSA Precheck is also not available in Denver, which is the second of Clear’s four locations. Co-inkidink or conspiracy! You decide.