3 Proven Ways to Skip Unbearable Airport Lines

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3 Proven Ways to Skip Unbearable Airport Lines

Andrew W3 Proven Ways to Skip Unbearable Airport LinesMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Credit Cards That Offer TSA PreCheck for Free

Waiting in long security and customs lines is probably one of the least enjoyable parts of the airport.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to get through those lines more quickly, or even skip them altogether?

Fortunately there are programs out there that can do just that!  Trusted traveler programs like TSA PreCheck and Global Entry can expedite the screening process and get you to your flight faster!

And although these trusted traveler programs come with registration fees, there are many credit cards that will reimburse you as part of the perks of being a cardmember.

Trusted Traveler Programs Like TSA PreCheck Can Make Waiting in Long Lines at the Airport a Thing of the Past!

Million Mile Secrets team member Scott got a full refund for his Global Entry application using a credit card perk.  And since being approved, he’s been allowed to go in the faster TSA PreCheck line.

Million Mile Secrets contributor Andrew also took advantage of the Global Entry program to speed through customs when he returned from an overseas trip!

I’ll go through some of the programs that can help you can get through security checks more quickly, how to register, who is eligible, and where these are available!

Using Trusted Traveler Programs to Speed Through Lines

Depending on your travel plans, it may not be unusual to encounter long security lines at the airport.  Fortunately, if you meet the eligibility criteria for certain trusted traveler programs, you’ll be able to get expedited clearance as a pre-approved low risk traveler!

Different programs will have their own pros and cons, such as airport availability, cost to enroll in the program, reimbursement eligibility by a credit card, and how difficult it may be to qualify as a low risk traveler.

Here are a few ways you can get expedited security clearance:

1.   Register for Global Entry 

Global Entry is a program offered through the US Customs and Border Protection agency that allows expedited clearance through customs for pre-approved low-risk travelers.  It’s great for frequent overseas flyers because it’s designed to get you through customs more quickly when you return to the US.

The US Customs and Border Protection website has a list of the airports where Global Entry is available, which includes:

  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York Kennedy
  • And many more!

And even if you are not a US citizen, you may still be eligible for membership to Global Entry!  US lawful permanent residents, and citizens of certain other countries, are eligible for membership.

You Don’t Have to Be a US Citizen to Qualify for Global Entry. Citizens of Certain Other Countries, Like The United Kingdom, Are Also Eligible!

To apply for the program, you’ll have to submit an application on the US Customs and Border Protection website, along with a non-refundable $100 application fee.  But if you have one of the credit cards listed above, you’ll be able to have the fee reimbursed.

Once your application is conditionally approved, you’ll be able to schedule the final step of the approval process, which is an in-person interview with a CBP officer.  If the wait times for an interview are too long, here is one shortcut you can use to try and get a same-day appointment. 

2.   Get TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck is another trusted traveler program similar to Global Entry, and is geared towards domestic travelers within the US.  TSA PreCheck lines are often much shorter than the regular security lines.  And you also won’t have to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, or jackets!  So if your airport offers TSA PreCheck, it can be a huge time saver.

According to the TSA website, in May 2018, 92% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes.  That’s an incredibly fast time to get through security screening!  And it is available at over 200 airports and 53 airlines nationwide.

TSA PreCheck Airlines 2017
You’ll Be Able to Speed Through Security Checkpoints as a TSA PreCheck Member!

The enrollment process for TSA PreCheck is similar to Global Entry.  You’ll have to submit an online application and pay a fee of $85, and then schedule an appointment at one of their 380+ enrollment centers throughout the US.

If you meet the eligibility criteria as a low-risk traveler, you’ll be given a Known Traveler Number (KTN) which you’ll need to input to your frequent traveler accounts to make sure you can get TSA PreCheck the next time you fly.

TSA PreCheck is available to US citizens, nationals, and lawful permanent residents of the US.

3.   Get CLEAR  

During peak travel season, even the TSA PreCheck lines at certain airports could have a long wait.  If this is the case at your airport, then you might want to consider CLEAR.

CLEAR is a privately-operated security program that lets you bypass the TSA PreCheck lines entirely.  When you visit an airport that offers CLEAR, you’ll access the dedicated CLEAR lanes.  A concierge will walk you to an available kiosk, where you’ll scan your fingerprints and boarding pass.

Once that is completed, the concierge will walk you to the front of the TSA security line.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like waiting in line, so being able to jump to the front of the line is great!

And CLEAR can also get you into certain sports stadiums more quickly.  When Million Mile Secrets team member Scott passed by Citi Field, he noticed that the CLEAR lane was completely empty!

Review Of CLEAR
CLEAR Can Help You Skip Lines at Airports and Participating Sports Stadiums!

CLEAR is available at over 30 airports and sport stadiums nationwide:

  • Atlanta
    • Atlanta Airport (ATL)
    • SunTrust Park
  • Austin (AUS)
  • Baltimore – Washington (BWI)
  • Dallas (DAL & DFW)
  • Denver
    • Denver Airport (DEN)
    • Coors Field
  • Detroit
    • Detroit Airport (DTW)
    • Comerica Park
  • Houston (HOU & IAH)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles
    • Los Angeles Airport (LAX)
    • Banc of California Stadium
  • Miami
    • Miami Airport (MIA)
    • American Airlines Field
    • Marlins Park
  • Minneapolis (MSP)
  • New York
    • New York Airports (LGA & JFK)
    • Westchester County Airport (HPN)
    • Citi Field
    • Yankee Stadium
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • San Antonio (SAT)
  • San Francisco
    • San Francisco Airport (SFO)
    • AT&T Park
    • Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
  • San Jose
    • San Jose Airport (SJC)
    • Avaya Stadium
  • Seattle
    • Seattle Airport (SEA)
    • Safeco Field
  • Washington, DC (DCA & IAD)

The registration process for CLEAR is also much faster than that of Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, and only involves 2 steps.  The first step requires an online application which can be completed in under 5 minutes.  And the second step is to visit a CLEAR kiosk where you’ll scan your ID, fingerprints, and answer a couple questions to confirm your identity.

Once that’s complete you can use your CLEAR membership right away!

So who’s eligible for CLEAR?  Any individual 18 years of age or older can register.  And you must provide one of the following valid and unexpired forms of photo ID:

  • US driver’s license
  • US passport or US passport card
  • US-issued permanent resident card
  • State issued ID
  • US military ID

CLEAR does not do background checks, so it could be a good choice if that’s the reason you’re not eligible for other trusted traveler programs, such as Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

CLEAR membership costs $179 per year.  If your airport’s TSA PreCheck lines are just as long as the regular security lines though, it could be well worth the fee!

4.   Get TSA PreCheck as an Orbitz Platinum Member

Orbitz Rewards Platinum members can also have the $85 enrollment fee for TSA PreCheck reimbursed.  To qualify for Platinum status with Orbitz, you’ll need to have 12+ qualifying stay nights per year.

If you are a Platinum member, you’ll want to visit this website and follow the instructions.  Make sure you take note of your promotion code in the instructions so that you can get the processing fee waived.

Bottom Line

Trusted traveler programs like TSA PreCheck and Global Entry can help get you through security checkpoints more quickly.  And although these programs have registration fees, there are a number of credit cards that will reimburse TSA PreCheck and Global Entry fees:

If you find that your airport’s TSA PreCheck lanes are just as long as the regular security lines, you may want to consider enrolling in CLEAR.  While it has a smaller network than TSA PreCheck, it does let you jump to the front of the TSA line.  And depending on your airport, it could be a huge time saver well worth the $179 fee.

Have any of these programs helped you skip the long security lines at your airport?  Let us know in the comments below!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I haven’t applied for it, but I’m afraid to fly. I’ve never even been on an airplane!!

I have global entry, but the real value for me TSA pre-check. Keeping my shoes on is a big deal when you are a germ-a phobe!

Author

Hi Jon, thanks for sharing and I agree! I always feel so rushed whenever I have to take off my shoes, belt, jacket, etc. and then having to put them on again. So being able to keep them on through security is seriously great!

I have global entry and TSA recheck. Sometimes there lines are longer than the normal entry but most the times it rocks getting through quickly.

Author

Agreed, some airports are worse than others and it also sometimes depends on the time of year you’re flying.

If you’re frequently finding the TSA PreCheck lines just as long as the regular lines, you could consider CLEAR if your airport offers it!

Michelle Bush

I have not applied to any of these 3 as of yet. As I travel more I will be applying to whichever is best for me at the time.

I have not applied for Global Entry, but have been given TSA Pre-check on almost every flight my wife and I take. I’m still not sure why, though it just may be arbitrary. It’s happened on Jet Blue, Southwest and United….go figure…

Author

That’s awesome Harry! I didn’t know you could get TSA PreCheck without actually going through the registration process. Curious to see what criteria they use to determine who gets it and how common this is

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