Last spring, the Congress passed legislation calling for a Risk-based Security Initiative. This requires TSA to focus their energies on those more likely to commit a crime and less on those who can be trusted more. This applies to many frequent flyers of high status with the assumtion that they travel a lot and are less likely to be a terrorist. For those of us in uniform, it also means that we can be trusted regardless of status since we are sworn to defend our country and do so every day. This means we are allowed to go through a screening similar to what we experienced before 9/11. Keep your belt, shoes, and jacket on and your laptop inside its case. Pass through a regular metal detector and you are on your way.
This program has only been rolled out at Monterey, Reagan (Term. B Gates 10-22), and Sea-Tac (Checkpoint 5 North) Airports with more to follow. I finally got to try it and it was sweet. TSA knows people are not sure of the rules so they actually have an agent escort you through the process. First, I showed my CAC card (if you don’t have one you are SOL) to the TSA agent who took it and scanned the bar code. It seemed to be taking a while and another agent (my escort) asked if my CAC was new. I replied that I just got a new one last month and he said that it takes longer for the database to verify if it is new. I eventually got the green light after about 90 seconds and the agent walked me to the special line while explaining all of the new procedures. Even with his explantion, I found my self going through my usual paces like starting to take out my computer and take off my shoes. The agent was great about gently reminding me that I didn’t have to do those things. I was through security in about five minutes.
This new procedure applies to military members with CAC cards and their family members. The CAC card is the way that they verify that you are a “member in good standing” as the law requires. If you are in the IRR, DOD related agency or otherwise do not have one, you are not eligible. Niether are retirees or DOD civilians even if they do have a CAC card. TSA says they will work to expand eligibility as well as the number of airports that use this new program. Note that this is different from the Pre-Check that many frequent flyers use and you cannot use those programs (yet) at different airport. I expect that it will not be long before the military program is expanded to the same 22 airports have the civilian TSA Pre-Check such as ORD and PDX.