You don't need a time machine to experience pre 9/11 security! TSA Pre-Check at LAX

I'm on my way back to Kansas City after spending the past four days on the oneworld MegaDO. Sponsored by American Airlines, Hyatt Hotels, MilePoint, and oneworld, we participated in everything from evacuation drills and flight training at AA's training facility in Dallas, to a tour of Boeing's 737 manufacturing facility in Renton, Washington, as well as an opportunity to tour the Qantas A380 and a brand new Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300.

CX 777-300 LAX  QF A380 LAX

This morning, I had my first experience with TSA's new Pre-Check program. As a Global Entry & NEXUS member, I was able to input my Customs and Border Protection ID number on the profile section of the AA website. If you do not have a CBP ID number, there should be a box that will allow you to opt-in to the program.

Once I completed my check-in at American's Flagship check-in area, a quick elevator ride took me up to the premium checkpoint, which also houses the Pre-Check lane. Almost immediately, a clerk asked if I was a Pre-Check passenger. I indicated that I was, my boarding pass was scanned, and I saw the "LLL" designation appear on the screen. I was welcomed into the Pre-Check lane, which was deserted, except for five TSA clerks.

As I approached the metal detector, there was a clerk waiting to hand me a bin, and started to explain that I could leave my laptop and liquids in my backpack, as well as keep my coat, belt, and shoes on. The clerk working the Pre-Check line also seemed friendlier than the usual crew manning a checkpoint, which really surprised me.

Once I was through the checkpoint, I was amazed at the speed at which I was able to clear security. From scanning my boarding pass to exiting the checkpoint took less than one minute, which is pretty amazing. When you factor in the time it takes to unpack and repack at the checkpoint, it takes a lot more than one minute to pass through.

Currently, only frequent fliers with American & Delta, as well as members of a Trusted Traveler Program (Global Entry or NEXUS) may use Pre-Check. However, the TSA has announced that they are working to bring more airlines into the program. I, for one, can't wait until they have Pre-Check setup for United at Chicago O'Hare, as well as Washington Dulles. In the mean time, these are the airports that are participating in program.

    •    Atlanta: T-South Checkpoint (Delta only)
    •    Dallas: Terminal C, Checkpoint C30 (American only)
    •    Detroit: Checkpoint 2 on the ticketing level (Delta only)
    •    Miami: D2 Checkpoint (American only)
    •    Minneapolis: Lindbergh Terminal, Checkpoint 4 (American and Delta)
    •    Las Vegas: D Gates First Class Checkpoint (American and Delta)
    •    Los Angeles: American Premium Checkpoint (Above EXP/Plat/Gold) check-in


Brad January 31, 2012 at 10:36 am

I can't wait to finally try Pre-check for myself. Come on United, don't make me fly Delta to do so.

I've heard that ORD is coming online in March. Hopefully UA will launch the program at the same time.

Nick February 2, 2012 at 01:52 am

I'm just waiting for more flexability on airlines participating at certain checkpoints. Even though the AA gates in ATL can be accessed from the same checkpoint in ATL, it is only for DL. Especially important since I go for my Nexus interview in March.

Chris February 9, 2012 at 03:00 am

While I have access to AA's elite lines at LAX, it's not a problem for me to make use of TSA Pre (as I've done two times in the past month). For nonelites with trusted traveler IDs, is there a way for them to make their way over there? Having heard my experiences with it, my friends are considering picking up Global Entry.

@Chris: TSA publishes the fact that this is the designated checkpoint for Pre-Check. With that in mind, I don't think they'll have any trouble using the checkpoint, even though they don't hold elite status on AA. Unlike SFO or ORD, which feature an AirServ Dragon to keep non-elites out, it doesn't look like there is anything to stop them from using the line.