The crazy summer travel season has begun. Over the past few weeks, thousands of travelers at airports across the U.S. have missed flights due to delays in security processing as a result of budget cuts at the TSA. It's gotten so bad that airlines are now recommending that you arrive 3 hours before your flight.
That 3 hour requirement is not just for international flights but for all flights. Everything from a 16-hour flight from New York City to Hong Kong to a 45 minute flight from Los Angeles to San Diego. It's not currently forecasted to get any better; in fact it's likely to get worse.
There is one thing you can do to avoid this chaos: it's called TSA PreCheck and it's well worth it.
What is TSA PreCheck?
Quite simply, TSA PreCheck enables you to clear security much faster. It does this by allowing you to:
- Use a special TSA PreCheck lane
- Keep your shoes and belt on
- Keep computers and electronics safely stowed in your bag
- Keep your liquids in your bag
The amount of time this shaves off the security process is quite amazing.
How do I get it?
There are a few options for getting access to TSA PreCheck. Each option below comes with its own cost and eligibility requirements.
|TSA PreCheck||$85 for 5 years ($17/year)||Requires an online application, an in-person interview and fingerprinting by US officials.|
|Global Entry||$100 for 5 years ($20/year)||Includes TSA PreCheck. Enables you to also clear US Customs and Immigration quickly when arriving in the US on international flights.|
|Nexus||$50 for 5 years ($10/year)||Includes both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. Works in both the United States and Canada!|
So why is Nexus so cheap if it comes bundled with both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry? Since it includes Canada as well, you need to also have an in-person interview with Canadian officials. This is problematic if don't live near the US/Canada border.
Which one should you get?
- Best bang for buck? Nexus is the cheapest and includes everything. Go for it.
- Can't be bothered with additional Canadian processing? Go for Global Entry. I've literally been from plane to cab in less than 10 minutes using it in the past!
- Not a US Citizen or Permanent Resident? You might be in luck. Global Entry is also open to citizens of the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Panama, South Korea and also to Mexican Nationals.
- Ineligible for Nexus or Global Entry? Some people can't get either of them due to things like an arrest record. In this case, TSA PreCheck by itself can still be very valuable.
Even the most expensive option at $20 a year is better than 3 hour delays. What are you waiting for? Go get it!