Security Screening Showdown! How Does TSA PreCheck Compare With Airlines That Offer Their Own Expedited Security Lines?

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I hate waiting in long lines at the airport.  So when I read about TSA PreCheck a few years ago, I signed up almost immediately!

It was a no-brainer for me.  The opportunity to get through security more quickly and without the need to remove my jackets, shoes, or belts?  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  Sign me up right away!

TSA PreCheck normally costs $85.  But if you carry one of the following cards, you can get that fee reimbursed (up to $100)!

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

There are times when even the TSA PreCheck lines can get pretty long though.  In those rare instances, is there anything you can do to get through security more quickly?

Not a Fan of Long Airport Security Lines? You’ll Definitely Want to Enroll in TSA PreCheck. It’s the Fastest Way to Get Through Airport Security!

Airline-Specific Expedited Security:   Better Than TSA PreCheck, or Waste of Time?

Some airlines offer their own expedited security.  JetBlue, for instance, offers a product called “Even More Speed”.  It can be purchased for a small fee and is advertised as a way to get through security more quickly.  Many other airlines offer those with elite status a similar perk to get them through security faster.

But do these perks really help you if you already have TSA PreCheck?

Unfortunately, the short answer is probably no, and TSA PreCheck is still the fastest way through airport security.  Even if you qualify for, or pay for expedited security clearance, you’re not likely to get through security faster.  In fact, if you go through the airline’s own expedited security process, it could actually be slower than TSA PreCheck!

For instance, on my recent flight out of New York’s JFK airport, I saw that JetBlue’s “Even More Speed” security line would have taken MUCH longer than the regular TSA PreCheck line!

That’s because JetBlue’s expedited security line is just a shortcut into the regular non-TSA PreCheck line.  In other words, the benefit doesn’t stack with TSA PreCheck, you just go into the regular line where you’ll still need to remove your shoes, jacket, belt, etc.

Now the only time I might recommend purchasing an add-on like Even More Speed, or going through an airline’s expedited security line, is if you’re not flagged as TSA PreCheck eligible, or if the airport you’re flying out of doesn’t offer TSA PreCheck.

In that case, it might be worth it to pay extra (or use your airline elite status) for the right to get that shortcut into the security line.

CLEAR, Another Option!

If you’re looking to do everything possible to get through security ASAP, CLEAR is another option.  It does cost $179 per year to enroll in the program (although Delta SkyMiles members are eligible for a discounted rate), and is currently available in over 35 airports around the country.

CLEAR does not do any background checks, so it’s a wonderful alternative if for some reason you’re not eligible for TSA PreCheck.  And if the airport you fly out of offers CLEAR, it can be faster and CAN complement your TSA PreCheck membership!  That’s because it lets you jump to a special (shorter) line to have your ID checked right before security.  Then you can use TSA PreCheck to speed through the checkpoint without removing your clothes, laptop, etc.

Look for These Kiosks if You’re Interested in Enrolling in CLEAR! Unlike Other Airline’s Expedited Security Lines, CLEAR can Complement Your TSA PreCheck Membership!

Bottom Line

TSA PreCheck is by far the fastest, hassle-free way to get through airport security.  Airline-specific offerings of expedited security don’t do a good job replacing or complementing your TSA PreCheck membership.

In fact, they could actually cost you more time because they’re just a shortcut into the regular, non-TSA PreCheck lines!  The exception to the rule is CLEAR, which addresses a separate problem of skipping the line to have your ID checked before security.  Having both programs will get you to your gate EXTRA fast!

If you’re looking to get through security ASAP with TSA PreCheck, remember that there are many credit cards that will reimburse you for the fee!

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Let us know if you use another method to fly through airport security!

Andrew Wan is a contributor for Million Mile Secrets where he covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines and hotels. His work has also appeared in The Simple Dollar.

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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