Want to grab a flight to Seattle and not have to wait in airport security for too long? The Tri-Cities Airport will soon have just the ticket for you.
The Transportation Security Administration will run a dedicated line for members of its Pre-Check program, as well as for low-risk passengers at the Pasco airport, beginning June 1, a release said. The line, which allows travelers to keep on shoes, coats and belts while going through security, will be available during peak times, particularly from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m.
“We put out about 500 passengers every morning and that’s what this is aimed at pushing through,” said Ron Foraker, the airport director.
Delta Air Lines also has announced it is adding three daily flights between Pasco and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport beginning Nov. 1 through its Delta Connection service operated by SkyWest Airlines. That means there will be nine daily flights between the Tri-Cities and Sea-Tac in time for the holiday season.
“Delta has set up Seattle as their portal to the Pacific,” said Julie Harrington, CEO of the local Travel Leaders travel agencies. “Now we can get better fares.”
Tri-City travelers have been able to sign up for the Pre-Check program locally for about a year. The process, which costs $85 per person, requires an online application through the TSA’s website followed by an in-person visit to verify citizenship and be fingerprinted at 9915 Sandifur Parkway in Pasco in the Lourdes Occupational Health Center.
Though the Pasco airport does not have a Pre-Check security lane, Foraker said a recent trial run found 40 percent of the airport’s customers were already members. Harrington said a lot of her agencies’ clients are already signed up and sees the program as an incentive to draw people to the airport.
“They just scoot on through while the rest of us wait in that other line,” she said. “This will hopefully be that little kicker that might increase our flight traffic a little bit.”
The Delta flights, which will depart Pasco at 6:55 a.m., 8:55 a.m. and 2:20 p.m., are part of a package of flights to Boston, Orlando and Victoria, British Columbia that are based out of Sea-Tac. They will come online throughout the rest of the year.
The new services are part of the national air carrier’s plans to grow flight capacity by 2 percent in 2015.
The new flights came as a surprise, Foraker said. Alaska Airlines already operates five daily flights to Seattle and will add a sixth in June. The airport did not approach Delta about expanding its service to the area, and Foraker noted that the service from Alaska has been exemplary.
Nearly 103,000 people have already used the airport in 2015, Foraker said, a 4 percent increase over the same period last year and he expects local travelers will embrace the new flights.
Combined with Delta’s growing number of nonstop flights out of Seattle, Harrington said the air carrier’s new service stands to make it easier for people to travel around the country and globe.
“We like to work with them because they are very approachable,” she said.