Just in time for the unofficial Memorial Day weekend kickoff of the busy summer travel season, the TSA announced Wednesday that it is testing changes to its screening procedures at 10 U.S. airports.
According to the New York Times, those changes “will require passengers to place electronic items larger than a cellphone in a separate bin for X-ray screening.”
It’s hard to image this not creating bottlenecks wherever it’s implemented, but luckily there are ways to cut your wait times in TSA lines.
How to spend less time in TSA lines
TSA Precheck is an application process that can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend waiting in the security line. By getting approved and paying the Precheck fee, you can go through the Precheck line instead of the regular security line. According to the TSA, about 99% of TSA PreCheck passengers wait only five minutes to get through the line. The cost is $85, but your Precheck application, once approved, will last you five years.
Here are the steps from TSA.gov to apply!
- Complete the online application or you can complete the entire process in person at an application center.
- Schedule an appointment online or by calling (855) 347-8371 weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. Walk-ins are welcome but appointments take priority.
- Visit an application center to:
- Provide required documentation and fingerprints. Bring your current U.S. passport or a driver’s license and birth certificate. See other acceptable documents.
- Pay a non-refundable $85 fee valid for five years with a credit card, money order, company check or certified/cashier’s check.
- You can check your status online at any time.
Note that you must apply with the same name on your required documentation such as driver’s license or passport.
If you want to apply for TSA Precheck, you can apply here!
Read more: The #1 rule of cheap travel
For international travelers, the Global Entry program gives you access to reduced wait times at security lines and expedited entry benefits in other countries. It also offers you TSA Precheck eligibility. If you are a U.S. citizen, a U.S. lawful permanent resident or a citizen of a few other countries, you are eligible for Global Entry membership. It is $100 to apply, but gives you access to the fast track when traveling internationally.
Get Global Entry for free
Some American Express cardholders can get a credit on their credit card statement for Global Entry if they have the Corporate Gold Card, Consumer Platinum Card, Corporate Platinum Card, Business Platinum Card and Centurion Card. These will all give you a statement credit for the $100 fee, but you’ll have to decide if the annual fees for these cards are worth it for you.
To apply for Global Entry, click here!
Though Clear is not available in every airport, Clear is another program that can get you through airport security much quicker. The fee for Clear is $179 per year, but many people believe Clear is worth it to avoid the time spent in the regular TSA security lines.
Clear is available in these cities:
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Austin, TX (AUS)
- Baltimore, MD (BWI)
- Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW)
- Denver, CO (DEN)
- Detroit (DTW)
- Houston, TX – George Bush (IAH)
- Houston, TX – William Hobby (HOU)
- Las Vegas, NV (LAS)
- Los Angeles (LAX) (Coming soon)
- Miami, FL (MIA)
- Minneapolis (MSP)
- New York (HPN, JFK, LGA)
- Orlando, FL (MCO)
- San Antonio, TX (SAT)
- San Francisco, CA (SFO)
- San Jose, CA (SJC )
- Seattle (SEA)
- Washington, DC (DCA, IAD)
If you’re interested in Clear, vist the website here to learn more or apply.
Fly during non-peak hours
Flying during non-peak hours is sometimes not an option when traveling internationally or catching more than one leg of a flight. Also, it can be very inconvenient to fly on a red-eye flight or very late at night! But, it is another option to avoid extended wait times at security lines. (Plus, your fares will likely be cheaper, too!)
Though both TSA Precheck and Global Entry cost money, with the time and headache saved, it could be money well-spent, especially if you are a frequent traveler.