Lead TSA Officer Mark Srnec watches a man check his back
pockets at the TSA security checkpoint Friday at the
General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee.
General Mitchell International Airport is one of a
several airports across the country to offer a TSA
precheck program by way of an interview. The goal of the
program is to reduce the amount of time spent at the
security checkpoint line.
John Ehlke/Daily News
Andy Williams’ song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time
of the year.”
travelers, airline ones specifically, the holidays can
be a stressful one. A program sponsored by TSA aims to
lower those stress levels.
program is called “Precheck.” In a nutshell, it allows
qualified travelers the opportunity to significantly
reduce their wait time at security checkpoints at
airports throughout the U.S.
General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee has
an enrollment period set to begin Monday and go through
“It’s highly recommended,” said Harold Mester, marketing
and public relations manager for the airport. “If you
want to get through the checkpoint faster, the lines are
much shorter in the precheck lanes.”
Those enrolled and certified through the TSA program not
only get a special line at the security checkpoint,
passengers also don’t need to remove shoes, laptops,
3-1-1 liquids, belts and light jackets.
According to data on TSA’s website, in November, 93
percent of passengers in the program waited less than
five minutes in line. More than 5 million people are
registered and the program is available in most major
airports throughout the U.S., as well as Guam, Puerto
Rico and the Virgin Islands, and through 42 airlines.
Frank Pipia from the TSA Wisconsin Field Office said the
program started about five years ago.
“It’s growing rapidly,” he said. “The lines might be
longer, but they’re not spending as much time in line.”
advised some security procedures, such as random
screening, may still apply in the Precheck line.
is consistently adjusting screening processes to stay
ahead of threats,” Pipia said when asked if there were
issues raised about the program related to national
upcoming enrollment period at Mitchell is 8 a.m.-noon
and 1-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7-11 a.m. and
noon-4 p.m. Friday. The center is located in room B133
in the baggage claim area at Mitchell. Purchasing an
airline ticket is not required to attend the enrollment
interview. Those interested in signing up must bring
either a U.S. passport or a government-issued photo ID,
such as a driver’s license, and a proof of citizenship,
such as a birth certificate.
cost to enroll is $85 and it’s good for five years,
which Pipia said comes out to $17 per year and pays for
itself after two uses. Travelers 12 and younger or 75
and older don’t have to apply for membership. It is
preferred others between the ages of 13 and 74 enroll in
the program, but in cases with those 13-18, Pipia said
every attempt is made to keep families together as long
as there is an adult enrolled in the program.
Enrollment can be done online at
has been very popular because it reduces the stress of
travel,” he said. “It’s a lot lower. It’s a real
desirable screening process.”
on TSA’s website is a full list of all participating
airports and airlines. In Wisconsin, nine airports
participate, including Milwaukee. The others include
Madison’s Dane County Regional Airport, Green Bay’s
Austin Straubel International Airport and La Crosse’s
Other notable airports around the U.S. that utilize the
program include Chicago’s O’Hare International and
Midway International, Minneapolis-St. Paul
International, Detroit’s Metropolitan Wayne County and
Lambert-St. Louis International.
During the upcoming enrollment period, walk-in
appointments are welcome, but Mester said “you may have
to wait a while.” Appointments take about 15 minutes, he
know at Mitchell Airport it’s very well received,”
Mester said. “Typically the security checkpoint is one
of the more stressful parts of traveling. (The program
is) welcomed by travelers.”
Thursday, AAA announced a record-breaking 107 million
Americans are estimated to take their holiday
celebrations away from home during the holiday travel
season, which is defined as Dec. 23-Jan. 1.
Jarmusz, Wisconsin Public Affairs director for AAAThe
Auto Club Group, said about 6.4 million travelers will
do so by air. That doesn’t count any passengers who may
travel for business in that span.
“That’s about a 4 percent increase,” he said.
increase matches a trend from the last few years.
“It’s been going up, tracking along with traveling
overall,” Jarmusz said. “All modes of travel are up
about 3 percent. We contribute the bump in air travel to
airfare for the top 40 domestic destinations being 20
percent cheaper than they were last year. That makes air
travel a more affordable option.”
asked why, Jarmusz said, “Part of it is competition. ...
The economy is the other end of the equation. We’re
seeing wages increase over the last couple of years and
people have more money available.”
said Thursday that 90 percent of holiday travelers
choosing to drive will find the most expensive year-end
gas prices since 2014. As of Tuesday, the national
average price was $2.45 — which is 24 cents more than
last year on that date, but 11 cents less than it was a
Jarmusz said AAA expects gas prices to decrease through
the end of the year and into 2018.
for airline travel
Pipia said not much has changed as far as what is and
what is not allowed in luggage and carry-on for flights.
“It’s important for travelers to check
tsa.gov,” Mester said. “Of course, weapons are not
allowed through checkpoint. Leave those items at home or
in your vehicle. I think people generally know the rules
of the checkpoint.”
Pipia said expect some changes in the coming months as
far as rules surrounding electronics.
Otherwise, most of the rules or guidelines that have
been in place for the last several years remain in
“It’s always best to arrive at the airport early,”
Mester said. “We recommend two hours, particularly if
you’re checking bags; it takes longer to travel with
small children or those that require special or
always encourage people to check flight status at
mitchellairport.com. We post live flight information.”
Pipia said TSA has registration for those requesting
additional assistance, such as elderly or disabled, at
least 72 hours ahead of departure. Those wishing to do
utilize that are asked to call 1-855787-2227.
Pipia also suggested to leave presents unwrapped.