Pittsburgh airport eases application for expedited travel programs

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Hoping to keep your shoes on, your belt buckled and your laptop securely in its case on your way through airport security?

Now, there's an office in the Pittsburgh International Airport that can make that happen.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, joined by representatives from the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, announced Tuesday morning the opening of the first-in-the-country combined application site for two expedited traveler programs, TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.

Officials credited collaboration among the county, the airport, federal agencies and the local business community with bringing the service to Pittsburgh.

"The concept of bringing our two enrollment centers together under one ceiling is a long overdue idea, and one that will improve efficiency, service and convenience for our local travelers," said Joseph Klaus, port director for Customs and Border Protection for Pittsburgh.

PreCheck, which costs $85 for a five-year membership, allows airline travelers to go through specially designated screening lanes without removing shoes, outerwear and belt, while keeping laptops and compliant liquid and gel in luggage. The PreCheck program, which doesn't rule out random screenings by TSA, is available to people flying on 10 specific airlines, including US Airways, Delta Air Lines, Southwest and United. The PreCheck express lanes have been open at Pittsburgh's airport since October 2012.

Global Entry, which costs $100 for a five-year membership, allows international travelers to use an automated kiosk rather than the traditional customs lines. Travelers in Global Entry can participate in PreCheck for no extra charge.

Candidates must first apply online for the Global Entry program, and pre-enrollment is recommended for PreCheck, too. Both programs require interviews, and now those interviews can be conducted in the same location, a time-saver for local companies such as Reed Smith, whose employees often become frequent fliers, said Sandy Baghetti, the company's global travel manager.

"We have so many travelers out of Pittsburgh, and it was always an inconvenience when they traveled to wait in the long lines," she said. Reed Smith employees who wanted to participate in the Global Entry program previously had to travel to airports in places such as Baltimore and Philadelphia, she said.

The new center is located on the ticketing level at the airport, across from the US Airways and American Airlines ticket counter.

The TSA PreCheck application center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Global Entry's application center is open from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays, except on Wednesdays when it is open until 8 p.m.


Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com.

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