ROMULUS (WWJ/AP) – The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has announced the start of a pilot program at Detroit Metropolitan Airport for pre-screening a select group of passengers.

The program will allow faster screening of air travelers who volunteer more personal information about themselves ahead of time and applies only to a small number of frequent travelers who are U.S. citizens. The TSA said it anticipates that between 5,000 and 8,000 travelers per day will participate in the trial.

TSA Detroit director Bob Ball said frequent fliers of participating airlines, including Delta and American, were invited to be part of the program, where they would have an expedited security line of their own.

“They can leave their shoes on. They can leave their belt on. They can leave a light jacket on. They can leave a hat on. They can leave their laptop inside the briefcase or their laptop bag,” Ball explained.

“They can also leave their 3-1-1 complaint liquids, the smaller amounts, actually in their carryon bag,” he said.

The TSA announced the program in August. It’s the Obama administration’s first attempt at a more risk-based, intelligence-driven passenger screening program.

Supporters say it could respond to travelers’ complaints the government isn’t using common sense when it screens everyone the same. Opponents say the concern with an expedited program is that someone could pose as someone else, for instance by using false identification or an ID belonging to another person.

At Metro Airport on Tuesday, WWJ’s Ron Dewey spoke with several business travelers, including Tim Reardon of Berkley, who would be in favor of the program.

“I hope it would make things a little easier, getting through the line, especially for people like myself that travel quite a bit,” said Reardon. “It will be interesting to see how it actually shakes down … God knows, for those of us who travel quite a bit the security gets pretty old after awhile,” he said.

Another traveler said, “I think there’s a lot of people that travel for their job, they travel all the time, and they’re held up at TSA.”

The TSA said the pre-screening test would be on top of the existing pre-screening for all passengers who travel to, from or within the U.S.  All travelers would still be subject to random searches.

Depending on its success, the program may be expanded to a wider group of low-risk travelers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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