If you’ve spent time in a long airport security line, you’ve probably given some thought to some of the available shortcuts – TSA PreCheck®, Global Entry and CLEAR. With record numbers of airline passengers – over 771 million people boarded U.S. planes in 2017 – it makes sense to look for a smarter security experience. Which option is right for you?
The TSA’s PreCheck program allows members to use its designated lane in the security area of over 200 airports nationwide, remain fully dressed and keep liquids & laptops packed. The 5-year membership requires an in-person interview with Homeland Security, accompanied by lengthy forms, plus an $85 fee. Members receive a Known Traveler Number that should be consistently used when booking flights so the PreCheck logo appears on a printed boarding pass. You can add this number to frequent flyer profiles and provide it to the agency or company that handles your company’s travel reservations. The downside of this option is that it could take a couple of months to complete the enrollment process, and airport security lines can still be quite lengthy, sometimes resulting in little time saved.
Global Entry Streamlines the Customs Check
If you regularly travel internationally, consider Global Entry for expedited entry into 14 foreign countries and back into the United States. Members receive Global Entry cards and use automatic kiosks stationed at over 50 American airports to bypass the usual line at U.S. Customs. Financially, perhaps the best plan of action is to add Global Entry to a Pre-Check application since it only costs an additional $15 more to the PreCheck fee of $85, and you can probably visit the same location for the mandatory interview. This option gives you all the benefits of PreCheck when traveling solely within domestic airports and both memberships are valid for five years.
For business travelers, simplifying the passport control process helps take the stress out of a tightly scheduled trip. Some users find that they save up to an hour by bypassing regular customs lines.
What exactly is CLEAR?
Touting a ‘frictionless experience’ at 30 airports and counting, a CLEAR membership allows you to skip the first step in the security zone (the ID check) with the touch of your fingertips on their kiosk. This biometric scan allows you to go directly to TSA’s physical screening area – but if you’re also a PreCheck member, you can go directly to your gate. #winner
Tim Kennedy, Vice President at Travel Leaders Corporate swears by CLEAR and makes this bold statement: “CLEAR will change your life! It’s vital at a busy airport like Atlanta, my home base, where I can get through security in two minutes.” Tim Kennedy continues: “My son lost his wallet on a recent visit, but was able to fly home since he had CLEAR. Put two fingers on their touch pad, and away you go.” Industry data confirms the affinity for CLEAR. A 2018 poll of business travel trends conducted by Travel Leaders Group found that nearly half of all their clients have a CLEAR membership.
There are a couple of value-adds with CLEAR - Children under 18 can use the CLEAR lane when accompanying a family member and the company is also rolling out preferred entry to sports stadiums like Miami’s Marlins Park and San Francisco’s AT&T Park.
For all this convenience, you’ll pay. CLEAR’s base price runs about $179 annually, but there are deals if you qualify. There are corporate rates, but more importantly, your frequent flyer status determines how much you pay. For example, a Diamond Medallion member with Delta can get CLEAR for free.
Shortcut to Productivity
Corporate travel managers should seriously consider allowing reimbursement of this expense for their busiest travelers. From a productivity standpoint, the time it saves – about 30 minutes every single time you fly – is worth the expense. A security shortcut like CLEAR makes transit time more predictable since you never get surprised by long lines in the terminal. These tools can go a long way to making business travel more efficient and productive.
Find out the steps to get Pre-Check
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