GAO report-18-236 indicates that US TSA passenger screening canines as a useful tool to minimize wait times and meet passenger screening demand surges. Canines are trained to detect explosives on passengers. "Airports at which screening canines are used can achieve a reduction in passenger with times through broader use of expedited screening."

I am familiar with the standard and pre-check TSA inspection modes.


  1. Is expedited screening a synonym for the pre-check screening process (shoe exemption + WTMD)?
  2. If not, What elements of expedited screening increase inspection throughput rates?
  3. Does the canine "upgrade" of non-precheck passengers to become temporary pre-check eligible after passing the "sniff test"?

This question is posed in the hope that an observant traveller will have observed a canine and noticed a difference in process presented by the expanded use of an expedited screening process. Given my pre-check status, I would like to understand how (if at all) the security process changes for me so I can better plan my travel

  • 2
    I don't recall ever seeing dogs in use at a passenger security checkpoint. – phoog Jan 29 '20 at 16:43
  • Dogs could completely replaced swabbing for explosives. I am not sure they could replace the limits on liquids, or removing jackets and shoes before the metal detector. – Patricia Shanahan Jan 29 '20 at 18:15
  • Dog's can not replace checking for explosives. Binary explosives are a new (liquids under 3oz) thing, and no dog is going to learn the scent for every combination. Fast GC looking for various aromatics and Nitrate or similar compounds with a tendency to decompose rapidly is still going to be standard for years. It's not a good situation to have 10 different types of dogs all on call, unless you're a huge airport. – J.Hirsch Jan 29 '20 at 19:04
  • Oh I remember now: I did see a dog once. It was sniffing people as they walked through the line before getting their identification and boarding pass checked by TSA officers, so before the security check proper begins. Whatever the dog was smelling for, it doesn't seem like its mission was very rigorous, nor could it be if it was being employed at that point in the process. – phoog Jan 29 '20 at 19:42
  • I have been in TSA lines where a dog was used and then people were granted some lower level of screening as a result (such as keeping shoes on) without reaching the full pre-check level of lower security. The TSA has adopted a thing called "unpredictable security measures" (in other words, the use of randomness), so I'm not sure it's really possible to provide guidance: it's possible there will be a dog, and it's possible the screening could be somehow different as a result, and it's possible none of that will happen. – Zach Lipton Jan 30 '20 at 20:42

I'm really struggling to understand what you're asking here. It seems like you're asking how to avoid dogs.

TSA can utilize whatever methods are approved for screening and to reduce wait times. Whether it be letting dogs go through groups, waiving groups over from the regular to pre-check lines, skipping people out of the body scanner to the magnetometer, etc.

Dogs can be trained to detect explosives and drugs and fruit and ... whatever else they want to screen for. You don't know what they're checking for.

So if you're in one line, and they pull out a dog, and you switch lines? I'm going to flag you for extra scrutiny.

Edit: Undid edit for 'waiving' as the word choice is correct- waiving as in 'bypassing'. Waving is correct too given moving the group over, but I was looking for 'bypassing groups' instead.

  • Every time I've seen a dog in use the dog has checked every line. Screening by dog is really fast - the dog just walks down the line. – DJClayworth Jan 29 '20 at 17:45
  • 3
    I think you misunderstand the question. By my reading, OP wants to know how exactly using dogs expedites the screening. I.e. when they use dogs, what other normal steps do they leave out to make things move faster? – PhilippNagel Jan 29 '20 at 18:02
  • @DJClayworth I remember now that I recently saw a dog screening passengers in the initial line (the one people wait in to get to the id-and-boarding-pass check). I don't think people who had been screened were being particularly effectively isolated from the unscreened people in the departure hall. – phoog Jan 29 '20 at 19:44
  • I agree with PhilippNagel that the response does not address the OP's questions. @The OP clearly states dogs are trained to indicate for explosives: nothing else. If questions require clarification, please feel free to suggest edits. – gatorback Jan 30 '20 at 1:06
  • 1
    The post has been very much edited compared to my response. The original post read like a guy trying to figure out how to game the system to get drugs into/across. I'll give a different response if what is written now was there before. – J.Hirsch Jan 30 '20 at 14:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.