Expedited Screening Program Comes to Glacier Park International Airport

New screening program allows low-risk travelers to avoid long lines and taking off their shoes before passing through security

By Dillon Tabish
Lorie Dankers discusses the TSA Pre Check protocol at Glacier Park International Airport on Jan. 6, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

A new expedited screening program that allows travelers to keep their shoes on and bypass lengthy security lines is coming to Kalispell’s airport.

The Transportation Security Administration is establishing its PreCheck program at Glacier Park International Airport, making it the third airport in Montana to gain expedited screening opportunities along with the Billings and Bozeman airports.

The program, founded in 2011, allows travelers who are deemed low risk to use a dedicated screening lane and leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and keep compliant liquids and gels in a carry-on bag. A dedicated PreCheck lane is also available, allowing travelers to avoid longer waits before passing security, and instead of passing through full-body scanners they can go through metal detectors.

“It’s a much quicker, much more streamlined process for these passengers,” Lorie Dankers, the TSA’s regional spokeswoman and public affairs manager, said during a presentation at GPIA on Tuesday.

The four airlines that serve GPIA — Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, Delta Airlines and United Airlines — all participate in the TSA PreCheck program.

To qualify for TSA PreCheck, travelers who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents must enroll through one of four trusted traveler programs through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including NEXUS or SENTRI. Eligible travelers must undergo background checks, verify citizenship and provide fingerprints, and they cannot have been convicted of certain crimes. Enrollment in PreCheck costs $85 and lasts for five-year periods.

“By providing these individuals a streamlined trip through the security checkpoint, it allows the security officers to focus their resources on passengers who may pose a higher risk,” Dan Fevold, Montana’s TSA federal security director, said.

Applicants are required to enroll in person, and the TSA plans to establish an enrollment center at GPIA in the spring. Until then travelers can enroll at other centers across the U.S.

The Kalispell airport set monthly passenger records in nine of the first 11 months in 2015 and was only a few hundred passengers shy of its annual record entering the month of December, which tends to draw an influx of travelers for the holidays. The airport expects to announce its new annual record total for 2015 later this week.

“This is exciting for us. We knew that it would make the checkpoint more efficient and it’s also something our passengers have been asking for for several years,” Airport Director Cindi Martin said. “This is a first step for Kalispell in terms of the evolution of the check point. We’ve been growing it for years to meet passenger demand.”

In the last four years, the TSA PreCheck program has grown from four airports to over 150 and 12 participating airlines — Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, OneJet, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country, United Airlines, Virgin America and WestJet.

More than 1.5 million people have enrolled in the program.

For more information on the PreCheck program and how to enroll, click here.

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