Last week when heading to Hawaii, Kate and I got through security in about 30 seconds by skipping the line, keeping our shoes, belts, jackets, and watches on, and leaving my laptop and liquids in the bag. Security didn’t come tackling us afterwards. It was all thanks to TSA Pre✓.
TSA Pre✓ is a program that lets you get through security faster. Currently it exists in a limited number of airports and terminals, but it’s expanding fast. You can get access in one of two ways:
- Be invited by an airline through their frequent flier program
- Become a “Trusted Traveler” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. You do this by applying for Global Entry.
Towards the end of last year, Kate and I applied for Global Entry. It lets you “self check out” when returning to the US from abroad, and also gives you TSA Pre✓. Normally it costs $100 per person and is good for 5 years. It’s a free perk of the American Express Platinum Card. I ❤ Amex.
The Global Entry application is a pretty extensive background check, and then Kate and I had to go to SFO for an in person interview. The interview was awkward and intimidating, but we were accepted on the spot, and received ID cards in the mail.
Using TSA Pre✓ is easy. You enter your “Trusted Traveler” number into a special text box when making a flight reservation. Your boarding pass will get a TSA Pre✓ logo on it. And you zip through security!
We haven’t used Global Entry yet, but apparently the way it works is you use a self checkout machine where immigration is. You scan your passport, ID card, and fingerprints. Then on the way out a human simply matches the face on your ID. No lines.
I don’t think I would have applied for Global Entry if I had to pay $100 and it didn’t include TSA Pre✓. But with TSA Pre✓ it’s a no brainer. I highly recommend it, and I highly recommend Amex Platinum if you’re a frequent traveler.