At a time when many travelers are experiencing long wait times, especially for security pre-checks, I would assume that most "Insiders" are already aware of some of the tools available to reduce wait times when traveling via air. However, in case some of you might not have taken advantage of these, here are a few suggestions. Some have already posted similar notes: Re: TSA Pre Check and CAC Cards
1. Having made your airline reservation via internet, set up with your favorite airline advance check-in (depends on your airline status), and print your boarding pass(es) before you arrive at the departure airport, or use this feature on mobile app (see below)
2. Familiarize yourself with all the travel restrictions regarding checked and carry-on luggage. Possession of these will only delay your - and others' passage through the airport.
3. If you have "premium" status, such as "Gold", "Platinum", "Diamond", you can access these security lines without having to wade through long, general boarding queues. (*Most seasoned travelers already know this!) These also afford early boarding at the gate and seat selection also.
4. Apply for TSA "Pre-Check", which will be printed on your boarding pass: TSA Pre✓® | Transportation Security Administration
5. If you travel internationally frequently, you might want to consider the merits of "Global Pass" credentials for re-entry into the U.S.A.
6. I traditionally fly Delta Air, so their app for my mobile phone is quite handy, especially for travel alerts, notices of airline delays, check-in, etc. Most airlines offer similar connection tools: http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/mobile.html
7. Consider the merits of purchasing travel insurance prior to departure, particularly when traveling during particular, seasonal weather conditions (hurricane season, winter months, etc.)
Perhaps others would want to offer additional tips.
The application fee for TSA Precheck is $85 and Global Entry is $100. Once approved both are valid for 5 years. So if you ever do any international travel it makes more sense to get the Global Entry as it includes TSA Precheck.
When I had my 'free' TSA Precheck through my airline, I would get cleared for precheck about 60-70% of the time. I was told by TSA that under the terms of the 'free' plan I had through AA, my clearing was random. I found it disturbing to not know until checkin whether or not I would have cleared. Since purchasing the official Precheck through TSA, I have likely taken 150 flights and cleared on all but 1. That's been my experience.
jerryl is spot on. Global Entry even if you only fly internationally once is well worth it. Since getting Global Entry four years ago not once have we missed Pre-Check and with security what it is these days it would not surprise me to see the Pre-Check handed out based upon airline status to go away in favor of the known traveler background checks.
I was lucky enough to have Marriott pay for my Global Entry - which as mentioned by jerryl automatically gets you TSA Pre-check.
I agree with jerryl and vaboywnder and IAHFLYR - Global Entry is the way to go... It gives you international access, often skipping significant lines when you return, but also the TSA pre-check benefit which seems to be much more effective than that which comes with airline status. The Platinum American Express card gives a $100 credit to offset the cost of Global Entry membership. It requires an online application and an interview process that may take a few weeks to complete, but has been well worth the effort. I have gotten pre-check clearance on every flight taken since I got the Global Entry/ TSA Pre-Check card (probably 100 flights). Well worth the investment!
Your point is important. Friends of mine had a trip planned to europe and waited too long. Pre check fors accept walk ins at the airport if they have an opening but global entry requires an on line application . Once approved ( 1-2 weeks usually) then you need to schedule a visit at an airport which depending on the airport can take up to four weeks . I scheduled then kept checking back and a cancellation happened and i got in earlier . Moral on the story if you want global entry dont wait to the last minute.
Another important point about Global Entry, while it INCLUDES TSA Pre-check status if you are approved, the major benefit of it is that when you re-enter the United States, you will not have to stand in the heavy line that all passengers have to stand in to go thru customs. Most international airports will have a special line for people with Global Entry Approval, and you place your passport on a screen, place your finger prints on a glass for scanning while looking into a camera, and voila, you are done. The line for Global Entry is short, if non-existant, but perhaps it will get longer with Insiders! Enjoy!
Global Entry is definitely a necessity for travelling nowadays. Super easy to get it for free too. The Amex Plat (as previously mentioned) gives it to you for free every 5 years, as does the citi prestige, and the American Airlines Aviator Silver (if you managed to grab one). Ritz has the $300 credit, Delta Plat and Diamond members can also choose the credit as one of their benefits.
The one tip I'll offer when applying for GOES though, is if there is a long wait for an appointment near you, check interview centers in places you're visiting. When I applied last year, there was a 3 month wait for an appointment in south florida, but I checked in DC and managed to schedule an appointment 2 weeks out when I would be there on vacation.
Actually, the best out of all the programs is the Nexus card. The Nexus card is the cheapest ($55) and it provides you the benefit of all three ( Global, Pre-Check and Nexus - Canada). Nexus allows you to travel in the expedited lanes between Canada and US as well as use the Global Kiosks and Pre-Check. The only issue is that in order to obtain a Nexus card you need to go for an interview at one of the boarder crossing locations.
I first obtained Pre-Check a few years ago because it was easy to get and I don't travel globally a lot. Once I found out about Nexus, I applied and obtained a Nexus card. It works for me because I live in Buffalo so do travel to Canada occasionally and since it is the cheapest, it made more sense to get this instead of Pre-Check or Global. If you are located close to a site you can go for an interview, I think Nexus is the best option.