Call it the air traveler lottery.
Some lucky passengers going through security lines at Logan International Airport are getting a welcome surprise: They don’t have to remove their belts, shoes, and coats or take liquids and laptops out of their carry-on bags.
Logan is one of 11 airports participating in a Transportation Security Administration program to speed up the screening process by randomly selecting passengers to go through the expedited PreCheck lanes. It’s part of the TSA’s efforts to make the security process faster, including letting young children, elderly travelers, and uniformed members of the military forgo the shoe-belt-coat-laptop-liquids hassle when they go through body scanners or metal detectors.
The agency also plans to allow more people to apply for the PreCheck program, which is now limited to airline frequent fliers and international travelers approved by US Customs and Border Protection. By the end of the year, the TSA aims to have at least a quarter of all passengers nationwide go through some sort of expedited screening process.
The expedited screening, launched at Logan at the beginning of August, is in operation at Terminals A and C and the American Airlines side of Terminal B. Passengers step on an electronic mat or stand in front of a screen before entering the security line, and a directional arrow lights up, randomly sending some of them to the PreCheck line.
As in the regular line, those passengers have to go through a screening device, and some will have their hands tested for traces of explosives. But they won’t have to take off their shoes or perform other regular security procedures.
“This is going to improve customer service and still maintain high levels of security,” said Thomas Glynn, chief executive of the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan
Behavior detection officers and, at some airports, agents with canines, will still observe all passengers as they pass through the security checkpoint.
Isaias and Daly Sepulveda of Middleborough, on their way to Cancun last weekend, welcomed the possibility of zipping through the “annoying” screening process. The couple had just endured a long early-morning security line in Terminal C and had gathered their belongings near a bench to put their belts and shoes back on.
“Anything that speeds up the process without jeopardizing security is good,” Isaias Sepulveda said.