How to breeze through lines at the airport
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was established to protect transportation systems from potential risks. TSA, while keeping us safe, has one major down fall that we can all agree on — absurdly long wait times. USA Today even reported that, “American Airlines said 70,000 passengers missed flights during the first five months of the year because of the lengthy queues.”
Though airports and airlines have attempted some efforts at speeding up the process, it’s still a pretty hefty wait time when there’s 50 people in line ahead of you and you have to be at your gate in 45 minutes. Not to mention the hassle of having to remove your shoes, laptop and other belongings.
With that being said, what if we told you there was a way to shorten your wait time and leave your belongings on? (That includes your belt!)
Well that’s been made into a reality with expedited security programs.
Recently, we’ve seen more attention being given to trusted traveler programs. For example, last month, TSA PreCheck expanded to an additional 5 domestic and international airlines, taking their total to 47 carriers.
Since 2011, TSA has rolled out several programs that provide select travelers expedited screening for domestic and international travel. These programs are available airports around the world and with some select airlines. Depending on where and how often you travel, one of these programs just may be an investment for you.
Based on some research, we’ve narrowed down five (Which can also be found on our website.) that may be worthwhile for the frequent business traveler.
Being available in more than 200 airports, TSA PreCheck is the most common among its competitors. For a fee of $85 dollars, approved travelers can take advantage of PreCheck lines, where they don’t have to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. Though it may seem like a small difference than the regular lines, members reported an average wait time of less than five minutes. More about TSA PreCheck
Much like TSA PreCheck, Global Entry offers a similar expedited clearance option. When available in certain countries, members can simply use a kiosk to swipe a passport that will speed up your customs process. Another perk is the fact that you are automatically enrolled for TSA PreCheck when you are approved. Global Entry membership is $100 and lasts for five years. More about Global Entry
Much like the previous two, CLEAR can help members enjoy an accelerated process in the airport. At participating airports, CLEAR members can use biometric authentication, such as a fingerprint or iris scan, to receive expedited screening. After their identity has been verified, members will be escorted to the security screening, bypassing lines. They are also taken to the PreCheck line, which is included in the membership. CLEAR membership is $179 per year. More about CLEAR
For those that regularly travel between Canada and the U.S., NEXUS has the benefit self-service kiosks to avoid long waits at border points. Members can use (faster) designated lanes at border crossings and both NEXUS or Global Entry kiosks when entering Canada or the U.S., respectively. The membership lasts for five years and cost $50 to apply. More about NEXUS
SENTRI is designed for pre-approved travelers that want to reduce their wait times at southern land border crossings. It works similarly to NEXUS, but is intended for crossing the border into the U.S. and not Mexico. It does have the benefit of using NEXUS land when entering the U.S. from Canada by land. Members can also take advantage of using Global Entry kiosks when entering the U.S. from Canada by land. (Just not vice-versa!) It costs $122.25 and is valid for five years. More about SENTRI