So I am a fairly frequent traveler. I fly multiple times during the year so I start finding little things that save me time, money or both. One of the biggest items of late is the TSA precheck program. This is a program that government started to allow trusted travelers to use express screening lanes. At first these lanes were relatively rare and only the most frequent travelers got selected. Today you find these lanes during peak hours at most airports and you can pay a fee to join the program.
I can tell you firsthand that using the Pre-Check lane at the airport can easily save 20 minutes . Not only are the lines usually shorter, but you don’t need to take-off your shoes, jacket and belt. You also don’t need to pull out your laptop or liquids bag. Basically its like pre-9-11 security. On more than one occasion I have been late for a flight, and Pre-check let me shortcut the normal security line, allowing me to get to the gate on-time.
There are two negatives.
1. You will need to submit an application, pay a fee, and goto an enrollment center
2. Whenever you encounter an airport that either doesn’t have pre-check or the lane is closed. You will realize how miserable security checks normally are.
There is more than one way to get pre-check. I got it as a result of applying and being approved for Global entry which is a separate program that allow you go through customs and immigration using an automated kiosk. When you apply for Global Entry, you not only get a shortcut for Passport Control and Customs, but it also qualifies you for Pre-check.
Applying for global entry costs $100 and is good for 5 years. Believe me, even if you only travel once a year the trouble of applying and the $100 will be easily paid back. Five round trips over 5 years is 10 times through security and several hours of waiting in line. I can easily recommend that most people at least research Gloabl Entry. If any of your trips over the next five years happen to be international trips,you can easily save yourself an additional hour of waiting in lines for US passport control and US customs. Plus you don’t need to fill-out a paper customs form. I highly recommend this to my friends and suggest that your family members and frequent companions also sign-up so you can all go through the express lanes together. I recently got this for my parents and they will get to try it out on there upcoming cruise vacation. So hurry up and get this already!