The 2022 summer travel season has begun, and people seem ready for a trip after the COVID restrictions have been lifted. With gas prices hitting record highs, most travelers aren’t considering a road trip. Air travel is likely to be the preferred mode of travel this summer. While this offers a faster route to your vacation destination, it’s also likely to mean crowded airports and long airport lines. With your dream trip schedule, the last thing you want to do is waste time standing in airport security lines. There are certain options, like TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and CLEAR, for travelers who hope to avoid delay.
How do you know if they’re worth it or which service is right for you? This guide explores TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and CLEAR. You can learn the basics of each, the costs, and if the programs are a worthy investment.
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TSA PreCheck gives you expedited security checks for flights in the U.S. In May 2022, 93% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes in line. Once approved for the program, TSA considers you a low-risk traveler. You’ll be assigned a Known Traveler Number (KTN) that verifies you’re a PreCheck member. You can add the KTN to your frequent flyer accounts or enter your number during the checkout process to make sure it’s applied to your boarding process.
When you arrive at the airport, you’ll use a special security line. This allows you to use an expedited security check that doesn’t require you to remove shoes, belts, light jackets, laptops, or liquids. TSA PreCheck is available at more than 200 airports and through 81 airlines in the U.S.
How Do You Obtain TSA PreCheck?
To enroll, you need to submit an online application and schedule an appointment at one of the 380+ enrollment centers (often located at airports). At your enrollment, you’ll be fingerprinted for a background check and pay an $85 fee for a five-year membership.
If you’re traveling internationally, Global Entry is likely your best option. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that provides expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S. after traveling internationally. At airports, members go to a Global Entry kiosk to present a machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card and use a fingerprint scanner.
The kiosk issues a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit. Travelers approved for Global Entry will also gain the benefits of TSA PreCheck for the length of their membership.
How Do You Obtain Global Entry?
To get approved for Global Entry, you must complete a thorough application process that includes a background check and in-person interview after preliminary approval. To apply, you must submit an application and a non-refundable $100 fee.
If you’re approved, your membership lasts five years. However, not every applicant receives approval for the program. For instance, those with a criminal history may not be approved for Global Entry. Even as a member, all travelers are responsible for following the regulations of international travel. A small infraction could result in the loss of Global Entry.
A newer addition to the programs that can help you speed through airport security lines is CLEAR. Unlike TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, a privately run company operates CLEAR, not the government. CLEAR is a secure identity platform that collects biometric data on members (fingerprint and iris scans). It then uses this information to verify that you are really you. As a CLEAR member, you’ll go to a CLEAR kiosk to have your identity confirmed. Upon confirmation, a representative escorts you to the front of the security line.
While CLEAR offers you the opportunity to avoid waiting in line, it doesn’t allow you to skip the thorough security check like TSA PreCheck. However, if you enroll in both programs, you’ll avoid the wait and get the quick-and-easy security check.
One thing that CLEAR offers, that isn’t available with the other programs is CLEAR Sports, which allows you to skip the security line when attending many major stadiums and entertainment venues. This includes Staples Center and Madison Square Garden. CLEAR is available at 50+ airports, stadiums, and other locations.
How Do You Obtain Clear?
To enroll in CLEAR, you can either start the process by registering online or complete the entire process with a representative at the airport. The application process requires you to present your I.D., answer a few identifying questions, scan your fingerprints and eyes at one of the machines, and take a profile picture.
Membership costs $189 for a one-year membership, making it the most expensive of the three. However, you can add up to three family members for $50 per person per year. CLEAR also offers a free 2-month trial that allows you to see if it’s right for your travel needs.
Each of the three options shortens the waiting time for security checks. TSA PreCheck and Global Entry Prices are very similar, while CLEAR is more expensive. The benefits provided by each program have distinct differences in meeting the needs of different types of travelers. For many travelers, the cost of membership is worth avoiding long lines, and some credit cards offer credits toward your membership.
Learn More About TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and CLEAR
For safety, most travelers understand the importance of safety checks for air travel. There are other important steps you can take to help you stay safe while on vacation. Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance offers protection for your home and possessions while you’re away as well as the belongings you take with you on your trip. For instance, if someone steals your phone, laptop, or expensive jewelry from your hotel room or a cab, you have insurance.
Before you schedule that dream vacation, visit your insurance agent to make sure you have the coverage to protect your belongings. To learn more about insurance policies that can keep you protected while on vacation, talk to an independent agent at LoPriore Insurance today.