TSA PreCheck, Clear, and Global Entry – What’s Best for You?

TSA PreCheck, Clear, and Global Entry – What’s Best for You?

It’s a situation which has happened to all of us. We’ve gone to the airport ahead of schedule, checked in and checked our bags, printed our tickets and boarding passes. But the security line is long and moving at a sluggish pace. These long lines mean less time to dine once you’re in the terminal, less time to relax in the lounge, and the dreaded possibility of missing your flight. What’s worse is when you are then subject to a random pat-down, or two of the people in front of you forgot to remove water and laptops from their bags. That’s where programs such as TSA PreCheck, Clear, and Global Entry come in. Airport security lines can range from an average wait time of 8 minutes all the way up to 40 minutes, the latter of which is the norm for LAX. The longest wait time ever recorded was a whopping 3 hours and 51 minutes at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. But these three expedited services are designed to help you get through airport security lines more quickly and efficiently, reducing stress and making your travel journey more memorable.

TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck costs $85 and, once bought, lasts for five years. It can be paid in numerous ways, including money order, cashier’s check, or credit card.
What IS PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck is a service sponsored by the government which helps travelers gain expedited screening when going through airport security checkpoints. TSA PreCheck is mostly done for passengers traveling domestically, but will occasionally work for travelers heading internationally. In March of 2018, 93% of passengers with PreCheck waited for under five minutes in the security line. PreCheck can be found at over 200 airports nationwide and has 47 participating airlines. Over 6 million people in the United States currently use TSA PreCheck.
What separates PreCheck from regular security screenings?
Those with TSA PreCheck do not need to remove their laptops, shoes, belts, liquids, or light jackets while going through security. You may also head through the TSA PreCheck lane. If you have PreCheck, it will be printed on your boarding pass. But do be aware that family members under the age of 12 can participate in expedited screening if accompanied by a parent or guardian with PreCheck. However, those ages 13 and older must have their own TSA PreCheck boarding pass or they will need to go through regular security screening.
How do I apply for TSA PreCheck?
To apply for TSA PreCheck, you must first fill out and submit an online application, which should take no longer than 5 minutes. Next, schedule a 10-minute, in-person appointment at an enrollment center. Your appointment will consist of a brief background check, as well as fingerprinting. Once you are done, you will be notified via mail within a few days to a few weeks whether you have been approved.
How can I learn more?
If you have any additional questions about TSA PreCheck, consider reading the FAQs on the TSA website.


CLEAR costs $15/month, which adds up to one annual payment of $179. Each additional family member over the age of 18 costs $50, but all family members under the age of 18 can go through the CLEAR line with a CLEAR parent or guardian with no associated cost. For members of loyalty programs, such as Delta, you may be able to snag a discounted membership.
What is CLEAR?
CLEAR is a service that allows you to skip the line when waiting for ID checks. This means the line to show your identification before heading in through security. CLEAR offers unique screening kiosks. When you get to the airport, you will check in to the kiosk using biometric data; you may choose between fingerprinting and iris scanning. Once your identification has been confirmed, a CLEAR representative will take you to the front of the line, where you will be able to show your boarding pass and head to security. CLEAR also works at some stadiums or event venues nationwide. Because CLEAR only speeds you through the identification line, you may also be a TSA PreCheck member. If you have both memberships, you can move quickly through both lines.
How do I sign up?
You can start your CLEAR application online, and then visit one of their locations to finish up. CLEAR does not require appointments, and may be able to sign you up while waiting in the airport. All they need from you is an ID.
Where can I find CLEAR?
As the newer expedited service on the market, CLEAR is not yet widespread across the United States. CLEAR can be found in 30 cities and sports stadiums within the United States, including Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Baltimore, and San Antonio. The full list can be found here.

Global Entry

Global Entry membership costs $100. Once purchased, Global Entry lasts for five years.
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a program which allows travelers to bypass lines at customs and immigration. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Global Entry “is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.” Travelers are given a Trusted (Known) Traveler Number (KTN), which they can use at Global Entry kiosks, along with scanning their passport or other valid identification. At these kiosks, travelers will also have their fingerprints scanned and complete a customs declaration. Once this process is complete, they are given a receipt and allowed to proceed on, skipping the long and arduous lines that often exist near customs. In participating airports, having Global Entry also makes travelers eligible for TSA PreCheck.
Can I get expedited entry into other countries?
Yes. There are a number of airports that have Global Entry kiosks. There are also 14 countries partnering with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to help facilitate travel.
How do I apply for Global Entry?
Before you apply for Global Entry, make sure that you are eligible. All United States citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and citizens of these countries are eligible. Once you have determined your eligibility, the next step is creating a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) account, which must be done regardless of age. Create your account here. Once logged into your account, complete the Global Entry application and submit your $100 fee. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will then review your application. If conditionally approved, you must next schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. You can find the nearest enrollment center here. If multiple members of your family are applying for enrollment into Global Entry, each person must have a separate interview. Remember to bring your passport and one additional form of identification.


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