TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are not well-kept secrets, but I’m often surprised by how many frequent travelers I meet who don’t have either. The common excuses I’ve heard—that it’s not worth it if you only fly a few times a year, or that you fly out of small airports with short lines, or that it’s a nuisance to have to go to an enrollment center for an in-person interview—are weak. Many things about air travel, like delays and cancellations, are out of your control. So why not make at least one part of the travel process easier?
The service allows you to go through a separate security lane, one that’s significantly sped up because PreCheck means you don’t have to take off your shoes, belt or jacket, get your laptop out of your bag or remove any liquids from your carry-on. Even around the holidays, I’ve never waited more than 10 minutes in a PreCheck line, including when the normal security lines snake around the airport. The Department of Homeland Security has several Trusted Traveler programs, but TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are the most well-known. The DHS website will tell you which program is best for you, but if you travel out of the U.S. even once a year, Global Entry will speed up the customs process (and its fee includes TSA PreCheck). TSA PreCheck is $85 for a five-year membership; Global Entry is $100 for a five-year membership. dhs.gov/trusted-traveler-programs