Airport security is an unfortunate part of air travel, but it doesn’t have to be all that bad. In this guide, we’ll cover some tips and tricks for getting through airport security fast.
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Sign Up For TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
If you’re a frequent flyer, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry is a must. As a trusted traveler, you’ll get access to reduced security measures.
TSA PreCheck costs $85 for five years and features:
- Access to expedited security lines.
- No need to remove your shoes, belt or light jacket.
- No need to remove your laptop or 3-1-1 liquids from your bag.
- Available for domestic flights at 200+ airports with 35+ airlines.
Global Entry costs $100 for five years and features:
- TSA PreCheck benefits.
- Available for international flights returning to the United States.
- Access to automatic kiosks that scan your passport and fingerprint.
- Faster customs screening.
- Expedited processing at land borders.
Read our post on The Best Credit Cards For Global Entry & TSA PreCheck for a list of the best travel credit cards that offer reimbursement for your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee. See a sample of the list below.
Best Airline Credit Cards For Global Entry & TSA PreCheck
The United℠ Explorer Card includes the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck waiver every four years. You’ll see the credit post within 24 hours of paying the application fee.
CHASE UNITED℠ EXPLORER CARD
The Chase United℠ Explorer Card from Chase has an offer for up to 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 total in the first 3 months. We value these 50k miles at around $700.
The card earns 2X miles on dining and eligible delivery services, hotel stays and United® purchases. United purchases include:
- Economy Plus
- Inflight food, beverages, Wi-Fi
- Other United charges
You’ll earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Other benefits include up to $100 as a statement credit for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck™ application fee every 4 years. You and a traveling companion on the same reservation will each receive the first standard checked bag free. This card provides priority boarding privileges and 2 one-time passes each year to United Clubs.
The Chase United Explorer Card has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 thereafter.
With the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, you can take advantage of one Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit every four years. The credit will post to your account up to eight weeks after the charge to your card.
DELTA SKYMILES PLATINUM AMERICAN EXPRESS CARD
The Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card has an introductory offer for 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 MQMs after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
This card earns 3 miles per $1 on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels. It also earns 2 miles per $1 at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets. You’ll earn 1 mile per $1 on all other eligible purchases.
Upon renewal of your card each year, you will receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. The cost of government imposed taxes and fees will be no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments). Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
You and up to 8 travel companions get your first checked bag free on Delta flights. You’ll also receive Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights.
You’ll also get an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓. There are no foreign transaction fees and the annual fee is $250.
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® offers a statement credit for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every five years. The credit will hit your account within eight to ten weeks from the charge to your card.
CITI® / AADVANTAGE® EXECUTIVE WORLD ELITE MASTERCARD®
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® has a 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles offer. Make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening to earn this bonus. See our valuation of AAdvantage miles are worth. You’ll easily receive at least $500 in value from these bonus miles.
The card earns 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.
You’ll receive expected perks like no foreign transaction fees and your first checked bag for free on domestic American Airlines flights. Up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation will also receive this free checked bag perk.
The main reasons travelers choose this $450 annual fee card are:
- Complimentary Admirals Club lounge access
- 10,000 AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
Get CLEAR Expedited Security
CLEAR is a new expedited security program that utilizes fingerprint and iris scanning to get you through airport security checkpoints quickly. CLEAR members also have access to an expedited security line before TSA PreCheck members (where available). This innovative program is currently operating at 25+ airports.
CLEAR costs $179 a year, and you can add a family member for $50 annually. Children under 18 are free. Thanks to a partnership with Delta, CLEAR is free for Delta Diamond Medallions. Other Delta elite status members and credit cardholders enjoy a discount on their CLEAR membership.
Fly Premium Class
Premium class passengers not only enjoy an enhanced flight experience, they also have access to expedited security lines.
|Airline||Expedited Security For…|
|Alaska Airlines||First Class|
|American Airlines||Priority AAcess, Business Class, First Class|
|Delta Air Lines||SkyPriority, Delta One, First Class|
|JetBlue||Even More Space, Mint|
|Southwest Airlines||Business Select|
|United Airlines||Premier Access, Business Class, First Class|
Earn Airline Elite Status
With airline elite status, you’ll get through airport security quickly. Most carriers allow their mid- and high-tier elites to access priority security lines. So you’ll be rubbing elbows with premium class passengers, even though you’re not flying with them. Depending on the program, you might even be able to get your travel companions through expedited security as well.
|Elite Status Program||Expedited Security For…|
|Alaska Airlines MVP||Gold, Gold 75K|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||Gold, Platinum, Executive Platinum|
|Delta Medallion||Gold, Platinum, Diamond|
|Southwest A-List||A-List, A-List Preferred|
|United Airlines Premier||Silver, Gold, Platinum, Premier 1K|
Look for our upcoming post Credit Cards That Help You Earn Airline Elite Status for a list of cobranded airline credit cards that offer complimentary elite status.
Airport Security Tips
If you can’t go through one of the avenues above to access expedited security, follow our airport security tips below to make the whole process as painless as possible.
Pick your airport wisely. If you have a choice between flying out of a big airport versus a smaller airport, go for the smaller one if you want to avoid long security lines.
Fly during off-peak travel times. Avoid flights that depart at peak travel times, including Friday afternoons between 4pm and 8pm, Monday mornings and major holidays. Not only will you enjoy shorter security lines, you’ll most likely pay less for your flight.
Dress smart. Think ahead when you’re picking out your outfit for the airport. Wear shoes that you can quickly take off and put on. Avoid wearing belts and jewelry. And wear a jacket with big pockets, so you can easily put your phone, wallet and passport away before snagging the rest of your stuff.
Know the rules. Packing prohibited items will lead to a thorough search of your bags, and security will toss any items you can’t bring on the plane. Save time, stress and hassle by only packing what is allowed.
Check airport security wait times. Monitor airport security wait times with apps like MyTSA and TripIt, so you can plan when you need to leave for the airport.
The airport isn’t the funnest place in the world, but you can make the experience better by spending the least amount of time possible going through airport security. Sign up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, get a CLEAR membership, fly premium class and earn elite status are all ways to access expedited security lines.
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