TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and Clear – Are they worth the time and money?

Airports are busier than ever and with that comes the potential for long wait times at security and U.S. customs. Fortunately, there are several programs that allow faster access through the lines – TSA PreCheck, Global Entry (which includes TSA PreCheck), and Clear, which is a private company operated out of several airports. Each has its own perks, costs, and enrollment requirements. Are you looking to be a savvy traveler and skip the crowds? See below whether any of these programs is a fit for you.

TSA PreCheck. TSA PreCheck is a pre-security clearance meaning you won’t need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, or light jackets at most airports. There oftentimes is a dedicated TSA PreCheck line, and in fact 91% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited 5 minutes or less to get through security in October 2022. Enrollment is $78 per person, which is valid for 5 years. Simply fill out an online application and schedule an appointment at one of 500 enrollment centers. At the enrollment center, you’ll be fingerprinted and photographed, given a brief interview or survey, a background check will be performed, and in most cases you’ll receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) within a few days. This KTN can be added to your airline profile as well as your Sunset file, and we’ll be sure to include it on any flight bookings. This means “TSA PreCheck” in most cases will show up on your boarding pass to allow quick access through screening.

Global Entry. If you’re planning to travel overseas, Global Entry can save a lot of time at U.S. customs when re-entering the country. Applying costs $100 and requires an interview and rigorous background check. If approved, you’ll also be enrolled in TSA PreCheck. Global Entry allows you to proceed to a kiosk where you’ll present your passport and fingerprints on a scanner. From there the kiosk issues a receipt which can be used to proceed directly to baggage claim and the exit. Global Entry enrollment centers are generally limited to larger airports.

Clear. Clear is not associated with the TSA or U.S. government but is a private company that has operations in around 42 cities across the U.S., not just at airports but also at stadiums and other venues allowing you to speed through security. In a Clear lane, you’ll be asked to present your boarding pass and then provide either a retina or fingerprint scan; you’ll then proceed to the front of the security screening line. The standard price for Clear is $189 per year. Clear expedites the document and identity screening, but it does not provide any benefits toward the physical screening process.

Should I sign up? If you’re not near an enrollment center or travel only occasionally, think about how many trips you plan to take over the next several years and which airports you plan to fly in and out of. Maybe a combination is right for you, or perhaps none at all. It really depends on your specific circumstances. If you’re in an area without an enrollment center nearby, consider scheduling your appointment during a long layover at a hub location, though keep in mind that most will be outside of security.

All three programs can help make your journey more stress-free. The next time you decide to book that much-needed getaway, give us a call! We’ll walk you through the pros and cons of each to keep your vacation as smooth as possible.

About Denise

My goal is to simplify travel-planning through an equal exchange process where I acquire your ideas and expectations for your trip relieving you of the worry, hassle, stress and time that accompanies Do-It-Yourself planning.

Recent Posts

Why take a tour for your next getaway? Here are our top reasons

As tempting as setting out on your own adventure may be, we’re big fans of going with a tour group. Even for seasoned travelers, taking a tour relieves the stress of going-it-alone planning and provides peace of mind knowing all the details are being taken care of....

Alaska Yacht Vacation: Client Review

Thank you, Denise for your 3-year effort to realize our long-planned Scenic cruise. Even before our cruise set sail, your guidance was so helpful regarding COVID protocols, Canadian access forms and luggage options. You were always accessible and ready with required...

Best ways to stay healthy while traveling

Traveling is the ultimate way to escape from your ordinary routine. But it also comes with being exposed to many people from all over the world, including on your flight, at the hotel, restaurants, and during tours. The last thing you want is to be sick during your...

Items to never place in your checked luggage

With the recent holiday meltdown at a major airline, folks were separated from their checked luggage for days or in some cases even weeks. But it’s not just a problem with this single incident; every time you check bags there is the unfortunate risk they won’t end up...

Do you think a private yacht vacation is out of reach? Think again…

Imagine being in charge of your next cruise experience, surrounded only by your closest family and friends where you get to choose the itinerary. Each day is a new adventure where you can fully appreciate the perfect mix of relaxation, freedom, and adventure all at...