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Kentucky Airport, Purdue Partner to Measure Benefits of TSA PreCheck

With security issues plaguing the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) PreCheck program under fire, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) announced it’s found new PreCheck procedures may decrease a passenger’s security screening by more than 11 minutes.

Purdue University partnered with CVG to compare the standard and expedited wait time for airline passengers.

The study results come as TSA announced this week it has enrolled more than 1 million people in its PreCheck program, and as the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security examined audits and investigations of the PreCheck program and processes by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office.

According to the study, wait times experienced during security screening at the airports is one of the key elements of passenger satisfaction.

"Airports and the TSA invest considerable resources to provide a safe and efficient transportation experience," said Sarah Hubbard, an assistant professor in Purdue’s College of Technology who led the study. "Our goal was to provide a quantitative assessment on the impact of new checkpoint initiatives to CVG management."

During the study period of November and December 2014, nearly 55 percent of the 400,000 passengers utilized expedited service. The number of passengers ranged from a low of 4,000 on Nov. 27 (Thanksgiving Day) to a maximum of 10,000 passengers per day on Nov. 30 (the Sunday after Thanksgiving).

On average for the 61 days studied between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m., the median wait time for expedited service was 2.4 minutes, whereas the median wait time for standard service was approximately 8.9 minutes, resulting in a savings of nearly 6.5 minutes for expedited service. The expedited screening led to more than 26,000 person-hour savings in wait time in the two-month study.

"We first partnered with CVG in 2011 when they were preparing for their terminal reconfiguration. This was a great opportunity to go back and measure the impact of both the changes in terminal reconfiguration and Pre-Check," said Darcy Bullock, a professor of civil engineering.

The study said a comparison between 2011 and 2014 wait time also was conducted. For standard screening, the median wait time of 13 minutes in 2011 was reduced nearly 4 minutes, to approximately 9 minutes in 2014. Although expedited screening was not available in 2011, the wait time for expedited screening in 2014 was over 11 minutes faster than standard screening in 2011.

"Over the last four years CVG has made significant investments in reconfiguring our security check point and partnering with TSA to improve the travel experience of our passengers," said Brian Cobb, vice president for customer service at CVG. "This study was important to us so we could demonstrate to our leadership the impact those investments and partnerships have had."

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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