BREEZE THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY
Make sure you get to the gate with as little hassle as possible
By Benjamin Szweda
As lines grow longer at airports across the country, passengers are looking for ways to shorten their pre-flight experience. A crowded field of programs offering ease and expediency through the airport has appeared, promising to get you to the gate with as little hassle as possible. Here is our comparison to help you determine the best option for you.
PreCheck offers departing passengers flying a select 56 airlines expediated passage through the physical screening process at more than 200 US airports. Enrolled passengers use special screening lanes and can leave their shoes, belts, and light jackets on while passing through a metal detector with their laptops and liquids still in their carryon. Enrollment is $85 for five years.
This U.S. Customs and Border Patrol program offers all the benefits of PreCheck, plus expedited passage through U.S. Customs when arriving stateside. Enrolled passengers use a kiosk to scan their passport and fingerprints and complete a digital landing card. Passengers then collect their luggage and exit unless they have made declarations. Membership is $100 for five years.
The enrollment processes for both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry begin online and conclude with an in-person appointment and background check. Both programs have citizenship requirements and certain criminal convictions can be disqualifying. For more information or to use an interactive tool to determine which of these two travel programs is best for you, visit dhs.gov/trusted-traveler-programs. Note that some credit cards will refund the fee a cardholder pays for PreCheck and Global Entry.
Unlike the government-sponsored programs, CLEAR, a product of a biometric screening technology company, saves time during the document checking process for departing US flights. This is the step before the x-ray machines where a TSA agent checks your boarding pass and ID. Instead of this process, CLEAR offers kiosks where enrolled passengers have their fingerprints and irises scanned before moving onto the physical screening.
A U.S. ID is required to enroll in CLEAR. The service is only available at select airports in 15 states. The annual enrollment fee is $179, but discounts are available for Delta Diamond Medallion Members (free), Silver through Platinum members ($79) and all Delta SkyMiles Members ($99). Since CLEAR only expedites the document check process, many CLEAR members also hold TSA PreCheck or Global Entry memberships.