by Sarah J.F. Braley | December 01, 2011

Introduced in October at four airports, the Transportation Security Administration's pre­check program, a risk-based passenger screening process, already is being expanded to three more gateways.

The pilot program began on Oct. 20 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, Dallas/Fort Worth International and Miami International airports.

Eligible participants include some frequent flyers from American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, plus members of the Cus­toms and Border Pro­tection's Trusted Traveler programs (Global Entry, SENTRI and NEXUS) who are U.S. citizens and are flying on American or Delta.

After opting in to the program, passengers go through an expedited screening at select checkpoints, keeping their shoes and light jackets on, their laptops in their cases, and packed liquids in their carry-ons. At press time, more than 45,000 people had tested the new screening.

Less than a month after the program began, TSA Ad­ministrator John Pistole announced that in early 2012, expedited screening will be extended to Los Ange­les Inter­national, Las Vegas–McCarran International and Minneapolis–St. Paul Inter­national airports.

"If proven successful, TSA will explore expanding the program to additional passengers, airports and airlines," said an administration spokesperson.

While the screening has garnered raves from those who have used it, critics object to the relatively small number of people who qualify to participate.

UPDATE: U.S. Transportation Security Administrator John Pistol told Bloomberg in December that United Continental Holdings' top frequent flyers will join Delta and American airlines' top flyers in being able to speed through security at some airports sometime in 2012.