- TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are two trusted federal programs for travelers that generally speed up wait times at airport security or customs lines.
- The programs have received a record number of membership applications and enrollment wait times have increased in some cases, according to the US Department of Homeland Security.
- Experts said it makes sense for frequent travelers, especially during busy periods, but it’s not for everyone.
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The 2023 summer travel season is expected to be busy, making federal programs such as TSA pre-screening Especially useful for fliers, according to experts.
These programs carry a fee but generally save travelers time at the airport. However, relatively long processing times – as with recent passport applications – mean it may be difficult for some new applicants to take advantage before traveling this summer.
“You have a lot of people who want to travel now, especially after the pandemic,” said Sofia Markovic, travel consultant and founder of Sophia Travel. “It’s like renewing a passport, where these huge delays have occurred.”
She added that programs like TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are “definitely worth it” to the frequent flyer.
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“It makes sense all year round, but especially when it’s a busy season,” Markovic said.
TSA PreCheck aims to reduce check time at airports. Travelers wait in different – and often shorter – lines than the standard security line. In April, 94% of PreCheck riders waited less than five minutes at the security checkpoint, according to Transportation Security Administration.
The agency aims for wait times of 10 minutes or less with PreCheck and 30 minutes for typical lanes.
TSA Pre-screening – Available to check out from some US airports It costs $78 for new enrolments. Membership lasts for five years, and renewals cost $70.
The introduction fee for new members is $15.60 annually. Several credit cards Fee coverage as an advantage customer.
Experts said that apart from the potentially shorter safety line, there is also a convenience factor.
Since the application It includes Passenger Risk Assessment – including fingerprinting for background checks – Members do not have to remove their shoes, belts or light jackets when going through airport security. They can also hold electronics and “3-1-1″ compatible fluids in hand luggage. (Rule 3-1-1 allows each traveler to carry one quart-size bag of bottled liquids weighing no more than 3.4 ounces each in their hand luggage.)
“It’s very hard for most people to argue against,” NerdWallet travel expert Sally French said of the fee. “It will relieve a lot of stress on the road.”
PreCheck is one of a handful of Trusted Traveler Programs Provided by the US Department of Homeland Security in partnership with other federal agencies.
Other programs include Global Entry, which offers an express US customs check upon return from a trip abroad. Five-year membership carries a non-refundable $100 fee and includes TSA PreCheck.
Experts said there are some instances where programs – and their fees – may not make sense for travelers.
Programs are most cost effective for people who travel frequently, for example. TSA recommend The Global Entry program is for people who travel internationally four or more times a year.
Experts said TSA PreCheck also doesn’t guarantee travelers will save time. The standard security line may be the shortest, depending on the airport and departure time.
Experts said that first-time TSA PreCheck and Global Entry applications can also be somewhat stressful. This is largely due to the need for a subjective assessment. Appointments – especially those of Global Entry – Not always easy to obtain and may require an off road visit (maybe to an airport) to complete.
You have a lot of people who want to travel now, especially after the pandemic.
Founder of Sophia Travel
Global Entry application processing times can also take anywhere from four to six months, according to the Department of Homeland Security. In 2022, the average time to enroll in the Global Entry program was 93 days, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The longer wait times are due to the record number of applications for membership in trusted flyer programs, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Google search traffic for “TSA Precheck” is about it The highest level in five years.
Most applicants must complete TSA PreCheck Online orderingand obtain approval within three to five days of their personal enrollment date, on average. However, it may take 60 days or longer, TSA He said. (Beginning February 1, U.S. Customs and Border Protection began releasing interview slots for registration centers on the first Monday of each month by 9 a.m. local time, according to the Department of Homeland Security.)
TSA PreCheck is also not available at all airports or airlines. It is currently available in more than 200 airports And across more than 85 participants Airlinesaccording to the TSA.
French said that if a traveler’s home airport isn’t located—most likely a small regional airport—it may not be worth the time and expense.
Travelers have another program option called Clear If they’re worried about not being approved by TSA PreCheck in time for a trip, French said.
Operated by a private company and not a government program, CLEAR speeds up the identity verification part of a security check using a retina scan or a fingerprint. (this Differs from TSA PreCheck. CLEAR members are still required to remove shoes, belts, and electronics during the physical screening processAnd Unless they also have a TSA pre-check.)
Membership is more expensive – $189 per year although discounts are available for some travelers. Travelers can register, join At the airport, usually within a few minutes.
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