Saturday, May 26, 2018
Business

First flier 'precheck' center opens, so you can keep your shoes on

TAMPA — Savvy air travelers have several options for getting through airport security quicker. One of those is the Transportation Security Administration's "precheck" program, which allows fliers to undergo background checks in advance of their flights, so that they can get into the expedited screening lines at airports.

But Tampa Bay travelers had a problem: There was no local precheck center for them to apply in person. Cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville have such offices.

Now the bay area has one of its own. The TSA is publicizing that its new universal enrollment services center is open for business in Tampa. The application center is at the Tampa Festival Centre at 2525 E Hillsborough Ave., Suite 203. Its hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The facility first opened its doors a few weeks ago, said TSA spokesman Mark Howell, but it was a soft launch to get the operation running. Now officials want to get the word out about the facility to travelers who want to enroll in the program.

"It takes 10 minutes," he said. "They ask you some questions. They check your documents. They take your fingerprints. And in two to three weeks you get a letter in the mail saying whether you've been approved."

Only U.S. citizens can apply, and the fee is $85. If they're approved, their clearance is good for five years. TSA will give those passengers a "known traveler" number that they will use when they book their tickets and get their boarding passes. That will get them into the faster security lines.

Joining the precheck program means those travelers will be eligible to keep their shoes, outerwear and belts on, keep their laptop in its case and keep their liquids in a carry-on. But it's not a guarantee that travelers will always be able to whisk through security. All passengers and their bags, regardless of what security program they're using, are still subject to random TSA screenings.

The new Tampa center will be for those travelers who want to enter the program but haven't been able to do so through other means. For example, airlines recommend certain frequent fliers to the TSA program to allow them to join the precheck program. Fliers who join the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Trusted Traveler program for international travel are automatically enrolled in the TSA's precheck program.

Otherwise, people have to apply in person for the precheck program, and until recently the closest office was in Cape Canaveral.

"We're trying to get people to sign up for the program," Howell said. "We're looking geographically to make it easier for them."

The TSA said its next new universal enrollment services center will likely open in Palmetto in Manatee County, but officials gave no time frame.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at (813) 226-3404, [email protected] or @jthalji on Twitter.

Comments
An American Airlines passenger was refused beer - so he screamed, fought and spit blood, FBI says

An American Airlines passenger was refused beer - so he screamed, fought and spit blood, FBI says

It began, as so many plane debacles seem to, with strange sounds in the bathroom.They were the noises of Jason Felix, one of the passengers on Wednesday’s American Airlines flight out of Saint Croix, according to a FBI affidavit recounting events lea...
Published: 05/26/18
Is the Lightning’s Jeff Vinik the best owner in professional sports?

Is the Lightning’s Jeff Vinik the best owner in professional sports?

Hope of another Stanley Cup has dissolved, and soon the ice will follow. Yet even if sorrow is the price of devotion, the true hockey fans will still buy in when the next season comes around.That concept may not be unique to Tampa Bay, but it does se...
Published: 05/26/18
Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Last year three members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club gang were implicated in the execution of a rival gang leader in the middle of rush hour traffic in Pasco County.Now those three and two other 69ers members have been indicted on federal charges tha...
Published: 05/25/18
With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

TAMPA — Behind the construction walls near the carousel at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, hammers, saws and power drills made a racket in the blazing Friday heat. A raft full of 100-pound water jugs took test trips on the new Roaring Springs ride set ...
Published: 05/25/18
U.S. news outlets block European readers over new privacy rules

U.S. news outlets block European readers over new privacy rules

LONDON — U.S. news outlets including The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Orlando Sentinel and The Arizona Daily Star abruptly blocked access to their websites from Europe on Friday, choosing to black out readers rather than comply with a ...
Published: 05/25/18
Tampa Electric appeals OSHA findings for October accident

Tampa Electric appeals OSHA findings for October accident

TAMPA — Tampa Electric Co. is appealing a recent citation by federal regulators. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit the utility with a $76,050 fine and a "serious" violation in April following its investigation into an accident in ...
Published: 05/25/18
Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million cars, warning owners: Don’t use the cruise control

Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million cars, warning owners: Don’t use the cruise control

Associated PressDETROIT — Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8 million vehicles in the U.S. because in rare but terrifying circumstances, drivers may not be able to turn off the cruise control. The company is warning owners not to use cruise control until...
Published: 05/25/18
Federal Reserve chairman warns his agency must be free from political pressure

Federal Reserve chairman warns his agency must be free from political pressure

Associated PressFederal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned Friday that the Fed’s independence from political pressure must be respected if it is to succeed in controlling inflation, maximizing employment and regulating the financial system. His re...
Published: 05/25/18
Restaurants like Ford’s Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Restaurants like Ford’s Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Tim Butler’s first car was a Ford Model A pick-up truck — a pearl fawn and cherry red pick-up he got his senior year in high school from his dad, who renovates antique cars. That’s why as Butler waited for a table at the Ford’...
Published: 05/25/18
St. Petersburg man fined $507,513 in penny stock scheme

St. Petersburg man fined $507,513 in penny stock scheme

TAMPA — A St. Petersburg man was fined $507,513 and permanently barred from participating in the offering of a penny stock in a case involving a scheme to manipulate the price of Aureus, a penny stock company incorporated in Nevada, officials said Fr...
Published: 05/25/18