The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Precheck program saw its enrollment rate soar 36 percent year-over-year in January, according to Politico. That was an otherwise rocky month for the agency, in which its unpaid officers called out of work in higher numbers and airport security wait times reportedly dragged due to the partial federal government shutdown. 

The agency maintains that its recent TSA Precheck marketing campaign—U.S. Travel has long advocated for stepped-up efforts to promote the program—is the primary reason for the surge.

But Charles Carroll, vice president of enrollment services for TSA Precheck vendor IDEMIA, told Politico the shutdown’s effects did help drive enrollment numbers: “This was kind of a trigger event or a motivating factor to say, 'I've been thinking about it. I was going to do it, but now I'm going to go do it because there's a specific reason why I need to do that,’” said Carroll.

While some airports logged security wait times in excess of 30 minutes during the shutdown, TSA Precheck passengers, on average, breezed through security lines in under 10 minutes.

It is a shame that it took something as drastic as a government shutdown to spread word of the benefits of TSA Precheck, but the effectiveness of the program is undeniable. With the shutdown now behind us, the agency should bolster its TSA Precheck enrollment efforts even further.

Earlier month, U.S. Travel sent a letter to Congress detailing specific measures to increase the numbers of travelers in TSA Precheck. Thoroughly pre-screening travelers to eliminate them as security risks before they even arrive at the airport is the very picture of innovation, efficiency and effectiveness. TSA Precheck’s expedited screening process requires fewer officers, allowing the agency to focus its efforts on non-vetted passengers. Enrolling more passengers in the program will ease the burden on an already stretched-thin workforce—and, of course, it has the added benefit of providing passengers with a more efficient travel experience.  

U.S. Travel is encouraged by the surge in TSA Precheck enrollment numbers, and stands ready to partner with Congress on expanding TSA’s Precheck program and increasing the efficiency of this crucial agency.