No one wants to spend time waiting in an airport security line. Luckily, some recent developments may help frequent travelers get through the line quicker.
This article by Mark Henricks for the OPEN Forum highlights these services:
- TSA PreCheck: This new program allows pre-screened travelers to avoid removing shoes, belts and outerwear and leave their laptops in bags while passing through metal detectors. TSA PreCheck is available to U.S. citizens who are invited by their frequent flyer programs, or who sign up for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program. To sign up for Global Entry you have to be a U.S. or naturalized citizen, fill out an application online, pay a $100 fee, then come in for a personal interview by a federal officer. American Express Platinum cardholders can get their $100 reimbursed when they join the program.
- Black Diamond lines: Fifty-one U.S. airports now have special security lines intended to sort passengers by their degree of experience. Black Diamond lines are for frequent travelers, Family Lines are for families with young or old members, and Green Lines are for inexperienced travelers. Airlines often direct their frequent flyers members to the lines, which may be somewhat hidden from the bulk of travelers. So ask when you arrive at an airport if they have these lines and choose the right one for you.
- CLEAR is a new system for pre-clearing travelers and allowing them to move to the front of security lines. For $179 a year, travelers with U.S. passports can register online and then attend sessions in which their retinas and fingerprints are recorded. Upon arrival at an airport, they go to a CLEAR kiosk for identification and go the front of the line. CLEAR lacks some advantages of TSA PreCheck, such as not having to remove shoes. But CLEAR members can add a spouse or partner for $50, and children under 18 can use the CLEAR lane without enrollment if accompanied by an adult member. Corporate and group discounts are available for five members and up. The main limitation is that the service is only available in Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Orlando and San Francisco.
And don't forget to pack and dress in a way that will help you move through the line smoothly. The TSA offers a list of straightforward tips on their website here, including:
- Pack an organized carry-on bag using layers – a layer of clothes, then electronics, more clothes, and then any heavier items.
- When possible, do not pack oversized electronics (laptops, full-size video game consoles, DVD players and video cameras that use cassettes) in checked baggage. However, be aware that these items must be removed from carry-on bags and submitted separately for X-ray screening. Small electronics, such as iPods, can remain in carry-on baggage.
- Pack all coats and jackets in checked baggage when possible. All coats and jackets must go through the X-ray machine for inspection.
- Think before you speak. Belligerent behavior, inappropriate jokes and threats will result in delays and possibly missing flight departures. Local law enforcement may be called as necessary.