SEA-TAC -- Thousands of Alaska Airlines frequent fliers and others labeled "low-risk" travelers by the U.S. government will get a fast pass through security lines at Sea-Tac Airport starting Tuesday.
Alaska Airlines sent selected customers a letter Monday notifying them that the Transportation Security Administration will use the airport's north checkpoint to test PreCheck, an expedited screening program it's rolling out at 28 U.S. airports this year as it moves away from one-size-fits-all security checks.
Those eligible -- for now, only members of Alaska's frequent-flier program invited by the airline and preapproved by the TSA, as well as members of the Nexus, Global Entry and Sentri expedited border-crossing programs run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection -- will speed through a special lane without taking off their shoes and belts or removing laptops and liquids from carry-ons.
They'll also walk through metal detectors, bypassing the full-body scanners that have raised concerns about privacy and low-level radiation emissions.
PreCheck includes a random-screening component, so agents still may ask a few people to remove shoes and belts.
But for the most part, those on the approved list will be sailing through. As of early April, 700,000 passengers participated in PreCheck at 12 U.S. airports testing the program.
"I really see the benefit of this as being one fewer annoying routine to have to go through at Sea-Tac," said Frank Catalano, of Seattle, an Alaska Airlines MVP Gold customer notified by the airline this week that he could use PreCheck. "Starting a trip -- which is stressful, even best-case -- a little less hassled and a little less inconvenienced will likely make the entire trip better."
Alaska Airlines passengers will be able to use PreCheck only at Sea-Tac, although Alaska said it is working with the TSA to add other airports this year, including Portland in May, then Anchorage and possibly Los Angeles.