sfo03.jpgGetting through the security gates at San Francisco International Airport just got easier for select fliers.

The Transportation Security Administration unveiled the start of a new program called “TSA Pre-check” at SFO this morning, TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said.

The program, which became available to eligible customers on Wednesday, will expedite the screening process for fliers, Melendez said.

Melendez said the program is designed to boost security by putting more focus on pre-screening participating volunteers.

“This has revolutionized how we do screen checks,” Melendez said.

It will help the TSA focus its efforts on high-risk travelers, he said.

Melendez said that the program speeds up the security check process by allowing travelers to go through without taking off shoes or taking out laptops or liquid products.

The time saved from the “TSA Pre-check” can vary, depending on the number of people in line.

“It all depends on how long the lines are,” Melendez said. “In a short line, you can save maybe a minute; a longer line and you can save 20 minutes.”

There is still the possibility that a traveler may screened by random selection, but “by and large, that’s eliminated,” Melendez said.

The program is available to American Airlines and United Airlines frequent travelers in SFO. Additional participating airlines include Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways.

San Francisco is the 32nd city to adopt the program. Melendez said the goal is to have it in 35 cities by the end of the year.

Airlines invite frequent fliers to join the program at no additional fee, Melendez said.

Members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI and NEXUS, can enroll for a small fee, he said. Anyone interested in participating can apply at www.globalentry.gov.

The program is eligible for U.S. citizens flying on a participating airline and traveling domestically. More than four million passengers have used the program, he said.

Additional information on the program can be found at www.TSA.gov.

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