I travel a lot. How much? I have status on American, United, Frontier, and Delta. A lot. One of my biggest fears is missing a flight due to traffic (Waze and Google Maps to the rescue – use arrive by time to plan when you need to leave), airport security, or great meetings with customers (this one I can deal with). Traffic, I will talk about another day. I am going to focus on how to get ahead with airport security. The delays are always increasing and changing where they occur. Enjoy the list below:
An government Act that requires Photo ID abide by certain criteria. Why am I mentioning it? Oct 1st 2020 you can’t fly without a Real-ID. Don’t worry. If you have a gold star on your drivers license. You are good to go. Renewals have been including it for a while now.
This line is filled with the occasional traveler. That means confusion. Slow progress. Lots of questions. Confusion. Highly frustrating near holidays with families. General boarding is fine but so easy to avoid by one of the following options. This is the line that started the phrase arrive 2 hours early.
Airlines with extra fees frequently create a priority security line. Domestically, it is absolutely NOT worth paying for. Internationally where some of the following sections below are not available its nice to have.
Airline status almost always comes with priority access for free. Example is Sky Priority from Delta.
After Nine Eleven (9/11) airport security by Transportation Security Agency (TSA) developed. A known traveler identification system was created to allow faster security screening. I believe it still costs $85 for 5 years. Many credit cards and airline status provide this for free. Early on it was great way to sneak pass General boarding. Priority Line became a ghost town as everyone shifted to TSA Precheck. These days I find TSA Precheck line is longer than General boarding during the business traveler hours.
Upside most travelers are professional or frequent. That means less confusion more help for those who are new. Less getting stuff out of bags which means even if the line is longer it is still quicker.
Luckily the policy of grabbing random people out of general boarding is dead.
Families: Kids under (I think) 12 can join parents in TSA Pre.
Shaun’s Advice: Do not pay for Precheck. Get Global Entry!
If you are flying internationally this is a no brainier. The last thing you want to do is stand in a long queue after a long international flight. For $100 you get this easy access through boarder control. You also get TSA Precheck! It lasts 5 years. That means equivalent of $20 a year to stand in less lines and ensure you don’t miss connections. Before you run out and pay for Global Entry check your credit cards, airline, hotel status. Depending on what you have you may get a reimbursement. AKA FREE!!!!!
Shaun’s Advice: Get this if you travel even a few times a year. One international trip is a blessing. $15 premium on TSA precheck it is a no brainer.
Customs Border Patrol has created an App for mobile devices. The app works fine to fill out information when transiting customs (international travel). I prefer Global Entry. That said if you don’t have it this is another great way to shorten the security lines in customs.
The load of travelers using the above solutions has created long lines in what used to be short. https://www.clearme.com/
Clear uses biometrics to identify travelers. Finger prints or retina and your boarding pass… and you skip the queues. You do still have to put your carry on through the TSA Precheck scanners… but no more lines at all.
I do use Clear as my home airport is Austin. Where security lines are always long.
Clear list price is expensive. I was able to purchase a yearly subscription through my Delta or United status (don’t remember which) at a good 30% off.
Security is there to protect us. With the volume of travelers they have had to become more efficient. If you travel even a few times a year I would strongly suggest looking at Global Entry. If you are at a super congested airport and travel all the time look at also adding Clear.