Summer Travel Season and Airport Security Wait Times

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Summer Travel season is officially upon us. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoint lines have been better as of late, but 2- to 3-hour wait times at some airports have been par for the course. What can one do to possibly speed this process along? Become a Department of Homeland Security “trusted traveler,” basically a person who is a preapproved, low security risk traveler.

TSA Pre®   or Global Entry

There are a few programs out there, but the main two for air travelers are TSA Pre✓® (domestic travel) and Global Entry (international travel). Honestly, if only to save ourselves the hassle of removing our shoes and pulling out our laptops, we’d join one of these programs.

TSA Pre✓® is an expedited security screening program for airport travelers departing from the United States. The other program, Global Entry, is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for preapproved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S., according to the U.S. CBP website.

Both programs are 5-year memberships that require ID verification and finger printing for approval. Global Entry is slightly higher – $100 for 5 years vs TSA Pre✓® $85 for 5 years. Not all U.S. airports have TSA Pre✓® lanes, but it is at more than 160 airports. If you travel internationally, Global Entry is a great travel tool when you reenter the U.S. and it awards you all of the TSA Pre✓® privileges for only $15 more.

So what should you do? If you have a passport and plan to use it and don’t mind an in-person interview, then Global Entry all the way! If you’re simply doing domestic flights, can predict that in five years you will not be doing any international travel, don’t have a passport and no plans to get one, and flat-out refuse to spend an extra $15, then do TSA Pre✓®.

To learn about the rules and regulations for both programs, visit https://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck and www.globalentry.gov.

Right now, not everyone is a trusted traveler, so there is an advantage to the programs. We do wonder if the day will come when most people belong to a program and there really isn’t a time-saving advantage anymore. Hmmm…

Now the real question — what do our readers say? Are you a member of a trusted traveler program? Why or why not?

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