1 million Americans can now zip through airports

More than 1 million travelers have signed up for the TSA PreCheck program, the company that processes the applications said on Tuesday. The PreCheck program allows them to avoid the worst of the security lines when flying on any of 10 airlines at 133 U.S. airports.

PreCheck is part of a series of growing programs that help Americans move more quickly through some of the hassles of airports. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol also offers several programs, including the popular Global Entry, which allows for speedy passage through customs and includes the benefits of PreCheck.

MorphoTrust USA, which handles the program enrollments at some 33o TSA application centers, said it signs up about 4,000 people per day.

PreCheck's benefit for travelers is that those considered "low-risk" can keep on their shoes, belts and certain outerwear, keep their laptops in their cases and often avoid the longer lines.

Here's how it works:

  • Any U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who has not been convicted of certain crimes (including murder, espionage, treason and racketeering) is eligible to apply. The application can be found here. A nonrefundable $85 application fee is required.
  • You'll have to fill out an application that includes identifying details about you, and then make an appointment for an in-person visit, where you'll get fingerprinted and submit documentation to support your identity and status as a citizen.
  • Applicants who are approved will get a "Known Traveler Number" that can be entered when booking flights on any of the 10 participating airlines. The number is valid for five years.
  • Boarding passes will note that you've been given PreCheck, and you'll be allowed to bypass the main lines.

Veteran travelers recommend applying for Global Entry ($100 application fee) rather than PreCheck if you do much traveling overseas. Also, unless your family travels a lot, it's generally not worthwhile for, say, a family of four to spend $340 on PreCheck applications.

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    Mitch Lipka is an award-winning consumer columnist. He was in charge of consumer news for AOL's personal finance site and was a senior editor at Consumer Reports. He was also a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.