JetBlue believes the TSA's invitations to PreCheck favored the legacy carrier, and now JetBlue is making plans to get on board.
“JetBlue is very interested [in joining PreCheck],” says JetBlue spokesperson Allison Steinberg. “We see the customer benefit and are actively working to become a member. It is our intention to be in the program late in the calendar year 2013.”
The TSA expanded the program of expedited security screening to 35 airports in 2012, but the participating carriers are limited to American, United, Delta, US Airways and Alaska.
Asked why JetBlue wasn’t aleady part of PreCheck, Steinberg says: “At the invite of government, the design of the program favored the legacy model.”
Meanwhile, Southwest, which transports more passengers than any other U.S. airline, is looking into getting into PreCheck.
“Southwest Airlines supports the Pre-Check program, and we look forward to participating in the program in the future as it expands its operations to additional airlines,” says Brandy King, a Southwest spokesperson. “Currently, we are in the process of analyzing what it will take to implement.”
Why does it take so long?
Joining PreCheck could be a somewhat complex task for an airline. It is not just a matter of opening a new security lane at the airport.
Airlines need to have the technology in place to notify travelers that they qualify for the program, to facilitate their enrollment, and to cross-check their names with government watch lists, for example.
And, although some airlines may view joining PreCheck as a priority, it may not be as high a priority as integrating a merger partner or ironing out kinks in the reservations system.
One way the TSA might be able to expand the program would be to facilitate reciprocity among various airlines’ frequent flyer programs.
Today, if you are an elite Delta SkyMiles member and are part of the PreCheck program for Delta at Charlotte-Douglas Airport that doesn’t mean you’ll qualify for American Airlines’ PreCheck program at Chicago O’Hare.
Certain airlines that codeshare might be able to establish a system where individuals who belong to both airlines’ frequent flyer programs could qualify for PreCheck from the two airlines.
David A. Castelveter, a TSA spokesperson, says the TSA expects to bring in three or four additional carriers into PreCheck in 2013.