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The hassle of air travel will soon ease significantly for service members under a new agreement between the Defense Department and the Transportation Security Administration.
Beginning Dec. 20, TSA will expand expedited screening procedures for service members on both official and leisure travel at all 100 domestic airports that now have such procedures in place. Currently, troops can use the expedited screening lanes at only 10 domestic airports, using their Common Access Card.
The expedited screening will be available to all members of the armed forces, including the Coast Guard and members of the National Guard and Reserves.
Expedited screening excuses service members from having to take off their footwear or light outerwear or remove laptop computers from their cases. They also will not have to unpack “3-1-1- compliant” carry-on bags, which permits liquids in bottles of 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less, as long as they are stored in a clear plastic, quart-sized zip-lock bag inside the carry-on bag.
The new process established under the agreement allows all service members to use their DoD identification number when making reservations. That will be used as their “known traveler number” to grant them access to the expedited screening lanes when they get to the airport.
The expansion of expedited screening “is a tangible sign of this nation’s gratitude for the men and women who serve this nation bravely each and every day,” said Mary Snavely-Dixon, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center. “We will continue to work with the Transportation Security Administration to help expand this program further.”
“TSA joins with the American people in showing its appreciation for the service and sacrifices of our men and women in the Armed Forces,” said TSA Deputy Administrator John Halinski, a 25-year Marine Corps veteran. “Providing expedited screening while on travel is the least we can do for these courageous men and women.”
TSA already has a special program in place for wounded warriors to make air travel as simple as possible. That includes personalized service and expedited screening to move through security checkpoints without having to take off footwear, light outerwear, jackets or headgear.
Wounded warriors or their care coordinators can contact TSA Cares toll free at 855-787-2227 with details of the itinerary once flight arrangements are made with the airline.
As to whether TSA might consider expanding expedited screening to military dependents, retirees and contractors, officials said they “continue to explore” further expansion “to groups that could benefit from expedited screening at security checkpoints while ensuring that overall transportation security is not compromised.”