7 Pre-Screens That Will Speed You Through Airport Security
For frequent travelers who feel they're spending way too much time in airport security lines, these programs are priceless.
For anyone who flies frequently, the TSA Precheck program is well worth the $85 investment for a five-year membership. TSA Pre-Check is available to low-risk travelers at participating U.S. airports and many international ones. “Passengers no longer have to remove shoes, jackets, and belts or take out laptops to be cleared through security,” says travel expert Tom Spagnola, senior vice president of supplier relations for CheapOair. “Over 97 percent of the time it took less than five minutes to clear security, which is a huge advantage, especially for business travelers who are often running to catch flights at the last minute,” says Spagnola. Considering that the number of travelers has increased over the past five years, it’s really a great program to avoid the long lines that go through regular security. TSA Precheck is valid in over 180 airports nationwide.
Speed through International immigration and security lines with Global Entry. It provides passengers with expedited entry into the United States and also comes with TSA Pre-Check. “This program is more intensive than TSA Pre-Check since you’ll have to schedule an interview and fill out a much more in-depth application,” says Daniel Gillaspia, creator of travel blog UponArriving.com. “It is great for people who travel internationally, since they can get through immigration lines quicker and many airports have an expedited customs line, too.” However, be aware the application process is intensive and waiting times for interviews can be long. You usually need a squeaky clean criminal record—even misdemeanors can disqualify you. Global Entry is available to Americans and citizens of select other countries (including the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Germany). The cost for a five-year membership is $100. Here’s how to stay connected for less when traveling internationally.
If you’re an infrequent international traveler who doesn’t want to shell out the $100 for Global Entry, Mobile Passport is for you. The free-to-use app from the U.S Customs Border Protection lets you electronically submit your documentation and promises to speed up your wait through customs, though you will still need to have your passport with you. Mobile Passport is currently valid at 22 airports and one cruise port (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida).
For frequent trips to and from Canada, the NEXUS program is the way to go. It allows pre-screened travelers expedited processing when entering the United States and Canada via land, air, or ports of call; the website estimates it takes a mere ten seconds for cardholders to get approved at border control. It even works in place of your passport when traveling between the two countries. The fee of a five-year membership is $179.99.
If you frequently travel south of the border as well as north, consider applying for Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI). In addition to being allowed to use Global Entry kiosks at airports, and NEXUS lanes when traveling between the United States and Canada by land, SENTRI members also are able to use dedicated processing lanes at land border crossings between the United States and Mexico. While citizens of any country are able to apply for SENTRI, you must have auto insurance that’s valid in the United States (A SENTRI membership is valid for one vehicle.) The fee for a five-year membership is $122.50. Find out the 12 things a TSA screener won’t tell you.
When you register in person at a CLEAR office, a private service that offers passengers the chance to skip security lines, your fingerprint or eye scan will be placed on file. Then when you show up at one of 18 participating domestic airports, you’ll be met by a CLEAR team member, who will help you validate your identity via your fingerprint or eye scan, after which you get to cut the security line. “This is great for frequent business travelers who use airports during those busy hours when even TSA-Pre Check lines can be backed up,” Gillaspia says. CLEAR costs $179 per year, although you can find promo codes that reduce the cost. Your benefits will extend to a child under 18 year who is traveling with you. Even if you don’t want to shell out money for pre-clearance, these tips for packing your carry on bag can help you speed through security.
Airline elite status
Using your airline elite status is one of the quickest ways to get expedited security. Most airlines provide their mid-tier and high-tier to access priority security lines, allowing you to join first-class passengers at security, even when you are flying coach. The benefit is typically extended to companions traveling with an elite member too, so you won’t have to leave your partner or kids behind. Read on for 15 more travel points perks you didn’t know existed.