Frequent fliers who feel grounded by airport security screenings can now use their Alaska Airlines miles to cover the cost of a prescreening, which may put them in faster-moving security lines.
Alaska Airlines on Monday announced the program, in which passengers can redeem 10,000 miles to cover the $85 cost of a PreCheck screening charged by the Transportation Security Administration. The initial offer remains valid until April 30.
According to the TSA's PreCheck website, acceptance into the program as a "known traveler" provides five years of access to expedited security lines, in which passengers don't have to remove shoes, jackets or belts.
The airline said its mileage-based program to cover PreCheck's registration cost is the first of its kind.
"TSA Precheck is a game-changer for those of us who travel frequently for work or pleasure," Sangita Woerner, Alaska Airlines' vice president of marketing, said in the statement. "This partnership between Mileage Plan and the TSA will allow more of our customers to take the guesswork out of the day of travel."
TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said Monday that Anchorage and Fairbanks have dedicated PreCheck lanes and more than 160 are in airports nationwide. PreCheck-approved passengers can still keep their shoes and jackets on when they go through regular screening lines at other airports.
"We encourage people who are eligible for this promotion to look into that, because we are looking to build up the base of eligible travelers," Dankers said.
Passengers will still find things a bit more crowded this month, though. Dankers said traffic this March at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is up 3.7 percent from a year ago, due largely to increased air travel during spring break. Nationwide, airport traffic is up 7 percent year-on-year.
"On average, TSA screened about 5,100 passengers a day (in Anchorage) and that will increase to about 5,350 this year," Dankers wrote in an email.
Interested passengers can begin the PreCheck process by sending an email to TSAredemption@alaskaair.com including their name and Alaska Airlines mileage plan number. After deducting the 10,000 miles from applicants' accounts, the airline will reply with a code that can be used on the TSA PreCheck application website.
If you're mulling whether to use your miles on the ground or in the air, Alaska's mileage plan site lists in-state round-trip tickets beginning at 15,000 miles and round-trip tickets to the Lower 48 or Canada beginning at 25,000 miles.