Cut the Airport Security Lines

August 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Ever wish you could cut through those pesky airport security lines… without angering the TSA or your fellow travelers? You may be surprised to learn that there’s a legal (and polite!) way to do it, one that savvy travelers have known about for years. And we’re going to let you in on the secret.

While standing in the airport security line, you’ve likely noticed travelers entering special lines marked “Pre-Check” and zipping right through airport security and simply assumed those lucky travelers were TSA, airline, or government employees. They’re actually people who have pre-qualified for rapid screening, and can pass through the security line without waiting. In reality, many travelers qualify for the TSA’s Pre-Check program and don’t even realize it.

What is Pre-Check?

English: TSA Passenger Screening

English: TSA Passenger Screening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pre-Check is an expedited screening program created and managed by the TSA, in cooperation with US Customs and Border Protection and a select group of major airlines. Participants in the Pre-Check program are allowed to use dedicated Pre-Check lanes at participating airports. In most cases, program participants are allowed to pass through security without removing their shoes, outerwear or belt, and typically do not need to remove electronics or liquid items from their carry-on bag.

How can I participate?

The Pre-Check program is currently available to passengers traveling on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America from participating airports. Currently, the program is eligible to frequent travelers who receive an invitation to opt-in from one of the participating airlines.

Travelers can also participate in the Pre-Check program by registering for a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account and enrolling in one of the CBP eligible programs via the Global Entry program. Once you’ve filled out the online application, you’ll need to pay a $100 fee and schedule an appointment at one of the program enrollment centers across the United States. During your appointment, you’ll be fingerprinted, have your passport verified, and be interviewed.

Don’t want to enroll?

If you’re looking for a way to bypass the long security line without enrolling in the Pre-Check program, fear not – you still have another option. For an additional fee (typically between $20 – $40) some airlines offer a VIP security lane that allows passengers to speed through a dedicated security line and board the plane before other passengers.

If you travel more than a few times a year, you may find it’s worth the time and effort to participate in the Pre-Check program. The time you save could end up being several hours worth per year, depending on where and when you typically fly.

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