Expedited Screening Programs

Transportation Security Administration offers a few expedited airport security screening programs – TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and the like (Nexus, Sentri..).

TSA PreCheck program gives you access to a special, faster TSA security line when departing from airports within US. With Global Entry program trusted travelers can skip the lines at passport control and customs when entering the United States and also enjoy TSA PreCheck. These programs have grown in popularity and utilization since being introduced.

According to the recent research by Stewart and Mueller (2015), their risk and cost-benefit analysis of PreCheck program shows that while the co-benefits of PreCheck exceed $1 billion/year, the loss of benefits from risk increase is less than $50 million/year. The increase in risk reduction of PreCheck is 0.5% assuming that PreCheck correctly identifies low risk passengers.

However, I wasn’t able to find a quatitative study on Global Entry (and the like.) The costs in  security loss and financial benefits associated with TSA PreCheck and Global Entry would be very different, as the screening process involved is very different between them. They also have different eligibility; only US citizens can participate in TSA PreCheck while Global Entry also covers certain foreigh countries.

Another interesting direction is the random inspection. While using Global Entry passengers are randomly referred to additional inspection. Questions like how to design the selection to minimize type 1/type 2 error, and how often the random inspection can be, can be well approached by OR methodologies.

There’s a huge room for our math to improve aviation security as well as customer experience. However, to be fair, I will finish this post referring the recent event of why we should avoid solving math on flight


  • Stewart MC, Mueller J (2015) Responsible policy analysis in aviation security with an evaluation of PreCheck, Journal of Air Transport Management 48:13:22.
  • Wong S, Brooks N (2015) Evolving risk-based security: A review of current issues and emerging trends impacting security screening in the aviation industry, Journal if Air Transport Management 48:60:64.




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